Lt. George W. Cooney, Co. D*, 38th New York Infantry, On the Battle

1 03 2022

The Scott Life Guard

The following letter, from an officer of this regiment – the Thirty -eight New-York Volunteers – contains an interesting account of their participation in the battle at Bull’s Run. This regiment was one of the first in the field, and last out of it. They suffered as much as any engaged, yet they were scarcely credited or mentioned in connection with the affair:

Camp Scott, near Alexandria,
Thursday, July 25, 1861.

My Dear Father: I suppose you are desirous to hear from me in regard to our glorious attack and inglorious retreat. We moved on Bull’s Run at 6 A. M. on Sunday morning, and arrived at 11 ½ A. M., after two miles of “double-quick,” when, without one moment’s rest, we were ordered to cross to the left of Arnold’s Battery and support him. This was after we had moved up the side-hill and given the enemy one round. In the meantime the New-York Zouaves moved over to the right of Arnold, and lay under cover of a fence, whilst our regiment passed on to the left. Arnold’s Battery was no more planted when the enemy opened their heavy artillery on him., and after one shot got his range completely, knocking two of his guns off their carriages, and killing or wounding almost every man in his command. Those who survived the volley ran away. Upon their running, a party of horsemen, some 90 or 100 strong, dashed up for the purpose, I suppose, of capturing the guns, but the Zouaves rose up from behind the fence and completely emptied their saddles. I do not believe there were ten out of the company, said to be command by Ben McCulloch, who is himself killed. After their destruction the Zouaves fell back for the purpose of reloading, when a regiment of infantry dashed out at a charge bayonets from the bushes, for the purpose of following the Firemen, thinking I suppose, they had run; we then rose and gave them a volley; the Zouaves then dashed back from the road to our relief, and passing us moved right down into the hollow, where Col War immediately ordered us to follow. This was the bloodiest part of the battle; here we were exposed to both infantry, riflemen and occasional charges of cavalry, besides the continual and rapid fire of their whole artillery. Here we were for three hours, some of us now charging with parties of Zouaves, and now with some of our own men; five times I came within sight of their masked batteries, and in this hot place were the Zouaves and our regiment kept, without one company of any other regiment coming to our support. Once and once only the gallant Fourteenth of Brooklyn endeavored to come to our assistance, but they could not get through the terrible fire between us, and were obliged to fall back. For all this, with our Major wounded and missing, Capt. McQuade killed, young Tom Hamblin, First Lieutenant, wounded and prisoner, Lieut. Brady wounded, Capt. McGrath wounded, and no less than 250 men killed and wounded, the New-York papers never gave one word about the Scott Life Guard.

The retreat was the most awful sight the eye of man ever looked upon. The troops had had no sleep for forty-eight hours, and traveled ten miles out to Bull’s Run. The retreat was made from that place to Washington, a distance of thirty-six miles. Next day I read of the death of my dear brother, James, which added keenly to the gloom of our defeat.

Yours,
GEO. W. CLOONEY

The New York Times, 7/29/1861

Clipping Image

  • The status of George W. Cooney in the regiment is uncertain. See below roster for the official history of Cooney’s service. His account indicates he was with the regiment, regardless.

38th New York Infantry roster

George W. Cooney at Ancestry

George W. Cooney at Fold3





Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman, Diary Entries

21 02 2022

Alex. Mon. July 15, 1861

I got a telegraph to go to Wash. to meet Gen. McDowell & bring Col. Miles. Margaret & I went up with him in the 9 a.m. boat. We met Gen. McDowell & he changed for Col. Miles to go up the Little River Turnpike & my division on the Old Fairfax Road south of the railroad as far as Sangster’s & then probably cross the Occoquan at Wolf Shoals & so on to Brentsville & cut the rail road which communicates with Va.

I went to see Gen. Mansfield but did not find him in. I had dinner at one & came down at 3 p.m. I met Lt. Charles Norton of the Navy. He was on the Seminole & is detached. Matilda is better but not well. Margaret is coming down in the morning to see me start.

After I got down the order to march came. Col. Miles had to start at 3 p.m. We will have to start at 10 a.m. to make our distance to Bone Mill on the Accotink. I was busy till night, have been since 11 p.m. with the brigade commanders arranging the details of the march tomorrow. I believe that we have now done all we can do [in] the short time left us to prepare. The day after tomorrow we will probably meet the enemy. It has been rather cool today.

Five men who escaped a call in mass arrived in town late this afternoon & now after 11 p.m. eleven more. A large portion of the population wont be impressed to serve against the U. S.

Alex. Tues. July 16, 1861

I did not get to bed before midnight. There was an alarm of an attack on our pickets at Springfield. It did not amount to much. Margaret came down in the 8 a.m. boat. I telegraphed for a carpet bag & some things but she did not get it. The first Brigade commenced the march at 10 a.m. Some regts. will be delayed by the misconduct in Lt. Symonds in referring to some provisions at night. We expect to get off about 3 p.m. Mr. Durn of Indiana sent word by Margaret that he wants to go with me. I telegraphed for him to come. We have a pleasant day, though it threatens rain. No instructions have come yet.

Sangsters. Va. on rail road Thurs. July 18, 1861

My written instructions did not arrive on Tuesday till about one p.m. & no horses for the guides although I telegraphed in every direction. A heavy rifled gun was also still behind.

Towards 5 p.m. Gen. McDowell arrived & soon after the gun with jaded horses. It came from Arlington. I also learned that I could get no horses for the guides, so ordered six from the A. Q. M. at Alexandria. As soon as we got part of them we started. In the night some of our guides joined us & reported that only three horses were sent. Capt. Tyler is one of the most inefficient Qr. Ms. I have had to deal with.

We soon overtook the rear of the column & took our opportunities to push ahead.

Before we left Gen. McDowell recommended to go on to the Pohick, about two miles further. I got there before sundown & found most of the First Brigade, Col. Franklin there. It is fortunate that we went on, as we would have found it almost impossible to encamp on the Accotink, it is so hilly & woody.

We bivouacked on a high hill, with the troops around us. The 11th Mass. was detained so late by the neglect of Capt. Symonds to furnish them rations, that the[y] got behind everything & did not get in till 3 a.m. & we were up & ready to march at daylight. We did not however start till 5 a.m. as I had sent back horses for the big gun, as it had stalled on a high & difficult hill at the Accotink on this side. I finally started & left a guard for it. I had sent back some horses from the Artillery wagons to help up the hill & had to wait a little for their return.

We at last got started, but had a continual succession of delays. The road is very narrow & lined with thick wood almost all the way & was crowded with troops. I sent forward several times to hurry them, but Col. Franklin said it was impossible for the skirmishers to advance any faster & as we were told to consider an ambuscade unpardonable I could not hurry them any more.

When the advance reached Elzy’s where the road to Sangsters & the one to Fairfax Station fork they sent me word that they had surprised a picket & the men had fled, that there were two entrenchments on the road to Sangsters & one on that to Fairfax Sta. with the roads obstructed. I passed forward to the advance & got there about 11 a.m.

Col. Franklin took a road to turn his entrenchments & whilst he was clearing the road I sent & had Col. Wilcox take the road to the Station.

In the meantime I had sent three companies of the Zouaves to try & disperse 80 men I heard were at Brinstone Mill on our left. They went & found that 11 foot & 2 cav drafted men had left in the morning for Manassas.

In the meantime the troops filed by & when Col. Howard’s brigade arrived I posted it at Elsy’s with one advanced towards Wolf Run shoals. He reported the gun at hand & it soon arrived.

In an hour Wilcox sent a note that he had possession of Fairfax Station, that 1000 men ran up the r. r. & 1000 towards the Court House. I sent this note to Franklin with orders to push ahead. I also ordered the troops to be ready to march at 3 p.m. & join Franklin at SangstersXHoward’s Brigade. I went forward with Lowe’s Cavalry. As we took the road they turned the place said to have the entrenchments we saw them to the right & went to visit them. They are two lines a little camped, poorly made, for Infy & will hold about 500 men. Nearby we saw their campXGordon, burning. They fled after our troops reached Elys & set fire to their store houses of corn & provisions. We found 11 barrels of flour & a pile of cornXmarked Confederate States. Also many of their mens shirts & some fresh beef & bacon.

We reached here about 5 p.m. & found Col. Franklin in possession. He reported that the retreat commenced at 5 p.m. the day we started. The last train passed not a great while before he got here & men on foot. The last bridge in sight was just set on fire. At Elsy’s we saw several smokes & people reported some firing of musketry & cannon.

We encamped here last night & the Hd. Qrs. put up their tents. We got supper in the poor house of the county & poor enough it was. Coffee & salt & shad & poor, very poor biscuit. This morning we had a cup of coffee made by our men with sardines & bread. I was so tired I did not report to Gen. McDowell as I was under the impression he would be on his way here to make a flank march on this side. As I was writing a report this morning I got a note from Capt. Fry that they did not know where I was & that they were marching on Centreville. I left Wilcox at the Station which is but a couple of miles from here.

Mr. Dunn has gone back, whether to return to Washington or remain with the Army if we advance. I sent a note to Margaret. I also since wrote another & sent it to Alexandria by an officer going in. I am very much annoyed at not having sent forward a report last night, but I was so strongly impressed with the idea that we would proceed by the left flank that I might neglect it.

Near Centreville Va. Fri. July 19, 1861

About 11 a.m. yesterday Gen. McDowell & staff arrived. There was not much of an engagement as our troops advanced. Col. Miles had two men wounded. Our troops burned Germantown & I believe Fairfax Court House.

When the General came most of the troops were near this place, that is in striking distance. I had sent out to look for our supply train, which should have been in & towards Wolf Run Shoals & out the r. road to Bull Run. From the latter place a battery was reported on the r. r. & the bridge burned. I sent again, but I could not get any positive information. I am satisfied the battery is beyond the rear & the bridge burned.

Our position & prospects were discussed & the plan changed. We were ordered to be here by daylight with two days rations in haversacks. We waited till late in the afternoon & I was satisfied no train would arrive so we marched & the head of the column arrived at a creek half a mile from here. As Wilcox was here & water good I came here with Franklin’s brigade & left Howards at the run.

As far as I can learn all the Army is here but Hunters column. I presume they are not far off.

At Sangsters heavy firing of cannon was heard near the direction of this place.

On our arrival we learned that Gen. Tyler had attached a battery, first with Infy. 3 regts. & then with Arty & was repulsed with loss. It was without orders & against the advice of the Engineer & other officers.

Col. Richardson’s Bri. was engaged & the 12 N. Y. Vols. ran awayXnot Col. Butterfields. Our loss instead of being 60 killed & a piece of Arty is but 3 killed, 2 probably mortally wounded & but 30 wounded. It is a disgraceful affair & Gen. Tyler is not excusable.

Our provision trains have arrived & our men are cooking & killing beef. I last night ordered a lot of cattle seized for my Division fearing the train would not arrive. I have just learned that it started for Occoquan.

We had a thunder shower last evening before our baggage arrived but a deserted town afforded us shelter till our tents came.

The coffee kept me awake most of the night. Our pickets were firing at intervals all night. This morning there was firing for hours, so that it was really dangerous to be about. With these long range muskets & raw Vols. it is really dangerous to be near them.

We got some pork meat this morning, the first since we started. No orders yet.

Our loss I find is much greater than I stated before, though no one knows yet as the Vols. have not called their rolls yet. I heard Capt. Alexander of the Eng. & Brackett of the cavalry give an account of the affair. There must have been a large number of troops & the firing was very heavy.

Mr. Dunn was here this morning. He witnessed the battle yesterday. I also saw Mr. Hoard. He was also present. Quite a number of citizens have been about the camps.

I also met Col. Porter & Major Barry. The latter has been appointed Chief of the Arty. I also saw Major Parker of the cavalry.

Camp near Centreville Va. Sat. July 20, 1861

This has been a tolerably warm day. I have not felt very well, but am much better this evening.

Sec. Cameron was in camp & a number of members of Congress. Mr. Dunn & Mr. Hoard called & then Mr. Brady.

I rode up to Centreville to look at the earth works. They are very indifferent & have embrasure for five guns.

We got orders to be ready to march at six p.m. When near the hour it was put off till 2 a.m. tomorrow.

At Fairfax Station in the earth works Col. Wilcox’s men found the secession flag of the Tensaw Rifles. It was presented to me & I sent it to Gen. McDowell. I have made out my report of the march from Alexandria.

Washington Sun. Sept. 1st, 1861

It is six weeks today since the battle of Bull Run, in which I was wounded. I was hit on the right arm, a little below the elbow by a minie ball, nearly spent & it was cut out on the field by Dr. King. It hit me about two inches below the elbow, on the outside & struck the bone & I fear fractured it slightly. I was on horseback & the Doctor he commenced cutting the ball out, but found it difficult & he got off.

On the afternoon before the battle the general officers got orders to appear at Gen. McDowell’s Hd. Qrs. to receive instructions. I went & did not get home till 11 p.m. We found a number of citizens there, many members of Congress amongst them.

The plans were detailed, but no opinions asked. I asked a few questions to understand what I had to do.

Gen. Tyler was to go up the turnpike & attack with artillery the battery protecting the stone bridge across Bull Run. I was to follow Gen. Hunter who was to take a side road to Sudley’s Church, or spring, or millsXwhere it crosses Bull Run. About half way there was a ford I was to stop at & when Hunter turned it cross & we together follow down to the Stone Bridge & then I take position on Hunter’s left. The road for me to turn off did not exist & I had to follow on to Sudley’s Mills where I arrived at 11 a.m. Before we got there Tyler’s heavy guns were heard & the smoke seen at two points. I could also see two heavy clouds of dust indicating reinforcements approaching from Manassas.

Whilst waiting for the last brigade of Col. Hunter’s division to cross I heard his advance attack the enemy in his front. We could hear our men driving the enemy back. Before we could cross Gen. McDowell sent Capt. Wright of the engineers & Major McDowell, the Gen’s brother, to me for reinforcements to prevent the enemy’s out flanking them. I had stopped the first Brigade to fill their canteens, but now ordered the Minnesota Regt. to go with Capt. Wright & follow more to the right, with 5th Mass. having orders for the second brigade to follow, but leaving Arnold’s battery & the 11 Mass. to take post as reserve on the right bank of Bull Run.

In a mile we got on the battlefield & I did not find any one to give orders. Gen. McDowell & his staff had passed up about a mile from Sudley’s Springs. We found the enemy had been driven back & I stopped a few moments to see what was going on & to make inquiries. In the meantime I met the General. He ordered some of the batteries forward, nearer the enemy & me to push the 5th Mass. forward from a position they took on a side hill, where they were lying down.

I went but seeing I could do nothing there that the key of the position was on the enemy’s left I ordered up two regts to try & take the battery covering it. I went up in that direction to wait for the Zouaves & when they came up lead them towards some old fields with scattered pines. As I approached the crest of the ridge I saw a line drawn up in good order at a shoulder & in citizen’s dress. I checked my horse for an instant & surveyed them. I then turned to the Zouaves & said there are the Secession troops, charge them. They rushed forward & in a few steps both parties came in sight of each other & fired & the Zouaves ran & I believe the enemy also. I tried to rally the Zouaves but failed. At the instant the Zouaves fired a party of 30 or 40 Secession cavalry charged them & were fired upon & broke & ran, leaving some half dozen men & three dead horses on the ground. As they fled Capt. Colby’s regular cavalry gave them a volley, killing a few more. It is said this was the famous Black Horse Cavalry.

I next led up the Minnesota regt., Col. Gorman. They got close on a Mississippi regt. & were repulsed & some 150 of their men ran away.

Washington Thursday Sept. 5, 1861

I next brought up the 1st Mich. They also were repulsed. These two regts. went into the woods on the right & did good service. The Zouaves joined some other regt. & did service as skirmishers.

The 14th Brooklin [sic] Regt. came up. I joined it, but at the first fire they broke & ran. Here I was wounded. Ricketts’ & Griffin’s batteries we retook three times, but they were lost at last.

I retreated with the troops till I met Col. Howard with his Brigade. They were engaged with the enemy. I left them after a while & got my arm dressed. I then tried to rally some of the Regts. but not one would form, or advance. We finally had to retreat across the Run, but there they would not form.

I stopped a moment at the Hospital & tried to get off some of the wounded, but most of them were captured by the enemy.

When I got across Bull Run I found that not a Regt. could be rallied nor even a company. I had Capt. Arnold with a section of Artillery & five companies of regular cavalry & with them covered the retreat of the troops on our road of retreat. A few secession cavalry followed us, but a discharge of canister sent them scampering away & they did not molest us any more.

It was about sundown when we got to where the country road we were on joined the turnpike as we approached it, we met a battery of rifle cannon. Here Arnold lost his battery, but we took through the woods & fields & came on the turnpike beyond the range of the guns. We reached Centreville after it was quite dark. Such a rout I never saw before.

I was helped off my horse, but having been on him since 11 a.m., I was so benumbed in my feet I could not stand for a moment.

I got a good drink of Whiskey & took a sleep of half an hour. In the mean time our Doctor was arranging for me to continue on to Washington.

We soon got orders for the Army to retreat to Washington. We got a cup of coffee & had our horses fed & were soon off. We found the road full of fugitives & wagons, but not a regt. in good or any order. I had Capt. Low’s company of 2 Cav. with me, all the way. Some other companies also joined us.

It commenced to rain a little before we got in. At the other end of the Long Bridge was the Buffalo 21 Regt. Some of them knew me. Major Rogers gave me a tumbler of whiskey, helped me to get home. There were orders not to let us pass but as I was wounded they let me & my staff pass. I got to my door at 6 a.m. on Monday. Capt. Wright & Lt. Farquhar helped me off my horse & as soon as I got to my room, Margaret sent for Dr. Abadie.

Washington Fri. Sept. 6, 1861

Dr. Abadie soon came & dressed my arm. He made me stay in bed & required me to keep the elbow wet with cold water. This I continued for some three weeks or more. The wound healed in a few weeks without suppuration. My arm is till a little stiff & I cannot turn my wrist sufficiently. It was six weeks before I could write anymore than sign my name.

I had a great many visitors, the first day & since.

Capt. McKeever was soon relieved from my staff & then put on McDowell’s. From there he was sent to Gen. Fremont’s. I sent the officers to Alexandria to try & reorganize the Division, but they could not do much & in a few days they were all relieved. I dictated my report & Lt. Farquhar wrote it out for me. It was arranged on the 31 July & written out & sent in on the 1st of Aug.

In the mean time Gen. McClellan arrived & assumed command of both sides of the river. I was relieved from duty on the other side & ordered to report to him. On the 2 Aug. reported to him & am to have a Brigade. On the 5 Aug. was made a Brig. Gen. of Vols. on recommendation of Penn. Delegation in Congress.

I rode to the Capitol same day & met a great many Senators. Next day Congress adjourned.

On the 6th Aug. Lt. Col. Day & 3 cos. of 2 inf. arrived & are posted near here. I called on Day, the next day & the day after they went to Georgetown.

Mr. Jewett left for Buffalo [on the] 6th. He took us over to Arlington & the Buffalo regt. the day before.

On the 12 Aug. Dr. Tripler arrived & called. He is the Chief Med. Off. on Gen. McClellan’s staff.

On the 13th I got my commission as Brig. Gen. Vols. & accepted same day. I would have declined but the Penn. Delegation had recommended me. It adds but little to my pay as I get so many longevities.

On the 14th got news of the death of Gen. Lyon near Springfield, Mo. A gallant officer sacrificed from having an inferior force.

Had a photograph taken for Harpers Weekly at Mr. Leavin’s regiment.

On the 15th went to Alexandria to see Col. Davies about my Brigade & Staff. I have the 5th Maine & the 16, 26 & 27 N. Y. We are posted on the left of Ellsworth.

On the 16th Dr. Tripler examined my arm & says the head of the bone is fractured.

Capt. Griffin’s battery is from the other side & encamped near us. He belongs to Gen. Porter’s Brigade. The latter is Provost Marshall & has been for some time. He has cleared the city of straggling officers & soldiers. The disorganization after the battle was frightful. For seven days after I feared for the safety of the city. I believe that the Confederates could have taken the works on the other side if they had attacked us. We lost the 3 mos. men & the panic was great. The chance soon passed. The truth is the enemy suffered so greatly they could not pursue us with rigor & some of their regts were as badly disorganized as ours. On the 20th we had quite a stampede in town about an attack on the city. On the 24th the mayor of Wash. & some women secessionists were arrested. Mr. Phillips & Mrs. Greenhow.

On the 26th Mr. G. W. Eddy arrived. Wants to be a pay master. Has not got it yet & I fear wont.

Stamped[e] & constant alarm on other side.

I was down town & saw Mr. G. H. Penfield make bread & bake it in 30 minutes by Prof. Horsford’s method. It is the great desideratum of the age. Now bread making is reduced to a science. Any child can succeed in making good bread. The bran takes out some of the nutritive qualities & what makes the bread size. This is prepared in the shape of a powder of phosphates of or phosphoric acid & bicarbonate of soda. These are mixed with water & or rather dry mixed with the flour & then mixed with water & baked at once. He is trying to introduce it in the army.

Sept. 1st Heard of the success of the expedition to Hat[t]eras Inlet of Com. Stringham & Gen. Butler. This I hope inaugurates a new era is in our operations. It should have been done 3 mos. before.

The first week or ten days after the battle the weather was cool & then about as many very warm. Since then much rain. It must have been same in the Confederates & we learn they have much sickness.

A few nights ago Griffin’s battery with a Brigade (King’s) went & crossed the Chain bridge & established batteries on the other side. The night before more troops went out. We met them, as we returned from Mr. Young’s when we had been to eat fruit & met Col. & Mrs. Paulding.

I got letters almost every day from some one for my influence to get an office. Jacob Stauffer formerly of Manheim has called. Jno. Bastruff who lives near here & I have had letters from Dyer & Mayer of Manheim.

I got a letter from Andreas Heintzelman in Kansas who inquires whether we are relatives. I have a number of letters of congratulations on my escape from the battle & promotion.

I have been several times to see Gen. McClellan, but he is hard to see & two weeks ago I thought he stood on his dignity, so I have not been to see him since. I must try & go to duty next week.

It cleared off today & has been pleasant. I walked down town with Capt. Lathrop. He got a commission as Capt. in the 17 Infy. & draw my pay of Major McClure for Aug.X$330.63X12 days as Col. & 19 as Brig. General. We went to Express office & got a keg of crackers some one sent Margaret & a box of ointment sent me from western N. Y. for my arm.

———-

Samuel P. Heintzelman’s Diary resides at the Library of Congress

This transcription was made by and presented with the permission of Dr. Jerry D. Thompson, author of Civil War to the Bloody End: The Life and Times of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman

Contributed by Daniel Winfield

Samuel P. Heintzelman at Wikipedia

Samuel P. Heintzelman at Ancestry

Samuel P. Heintzelman at Fold3

Samuel P. Heintzelman at FindAGrave





Pvt. Eugene H. Fales*, Co. E, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle

31 08 2021

OUR WAR CORRESPONDENCE.

—————-

From a Soldier in the 14th.

Arlington Heights, Va. July 28.

We did a harder 31 hours work last Sunday and part of Monday than I ever thought I was able to do, or ever expect to do again. We marked 65 miles between 2 o’clock Sunday morning, and 11 Monday A. M., besides fighting and manoeuvring on the battle-field. Previous to coming up with the enemy, which we did at a quarter of 12, we had marched 15 miles, with nothing to eat but a few crackers, which we ate as we went along. We emerged from the cover of the woods on a double quick step, throwing away blankets, and haversacks containing rations, to relieve ourselves of the burden we were no longer able to endure, and reaching the hill where Griffin’s West Point Battery was stationed, we sat down amid the flying balls for a few moment’s rest, being almost completely exhausted. The ball was now fairly opened, and the rebels getting proper range of us, our position became too hot, and rendered a change necessary, as a number of our boys had been wounded, but none killed. We then went into a deep gulch, through which ran a muddy stream, the identical Bull Run, the only water we saw after getting three miles beyond Centreville. We rushed into it, bathed our hands and heads, and filled our canteens. Stopping a few moments, the Fire Zouaves passed and formed in line behind their battery, on the top of a hill. They had been there but a few moments, when they were fired upon, with deadly effect, from a concealed battery, not more than 20 yards to their right, and a little to the rear. The fire was so sudden and unexpected that the Zouaves’ tanks were broken and forced part way down the hill, and before they had time to recover, the enemy had dashed out, took their battery, and carried it behind their breastworks in the bushes. The Zouaves made two or three desperate charges, and then retreated down the hill, the 14th marching up and taking its place. We had scarcely reached the top of the hill when a bomb-shell came crashing through our company, striking down eight – three were killed instantly. After firing two or three shots, I was struck down by a spent grape shot, but merely stunned. I came to just in time to take part in the third charge, which was the most desperate of all. We carried our flag up to the very muzzle of their guns, and would have entered their works had they not at that moment opened a cross fire on us from a thicket, on our right, which compelled us to retreat. The 69th came to our relief and taking our place, fought desperately, but our artillery leaving the field at the top of their speed tended much to create a panic that was impossible to check. But one thing is true of all the regiments with one or two exceptions; the men remained on the field after their officers had left.

Our brave Major, (Major Jordan) was the conspicuous man on the field. Seated on a handsome grey horse, he seemed to be every where present, giving orders and cheering on the men – was among the last to leave the field and kept in the rear until we reached Centreville. When taken Capt. Jordan, who was severely wounded in his arm put spurs to his horse and dashed between two regiments – which were drawn up in line of battle, on either side of the road, and which we at first took for a body of the enemy trying to cut of our retreat, but who proved to be friends – at the top of his speed.

We left the battle field at 8 o’clock and reached our camping ground at Centreville about 9 p. m. – laid down and rested about an hour, and continued our march without stopping more than a moment or two at a time till we reached here at 11 o’clock the next morning. All did not get in till late of Tuesday, having lain down exhausted by the road side. For two or three days we were so stiff that it was difficult to stir around much, although we are all about right again now.

A few nights before the battle, I caught a severe cold by lying out in a rain storm, on the wet ground, but have got most over it now.

Our regiment is now stationed where the 8th were, on the heights, at Gen. Lee’s house, the Headquarters of Gen. McDowell and staff.

Having heard so much of the natural wealth of Virginia, I took particular notice on our march, that I might find out in what it consisted. The first thing that attracted my attention was a few deserted houses on the road to Centreville, few and far between, plenty of “niggers,” some fine patches of Indian-corn, wide extended forests, and masked batteries. From my observations I drew the conclusion that the natural productions of the sod are: first, “masked batteries,” second, “Niggers,” third, forests, fourth, Indian corn, fifth, unmitigated scamps.

Two of our mess are missing. Charles E. Davenport, mentioned in the papers, was one, and was also one of those struck down by the shell I mentioned in my letter, but he was not killed, only slightly wounded in the neck; the last that was seen of him was about three miles from the battle field, coming through the woods; he is probably a prisoner. The other, Malcolm Stone, a very fine young fellow, was wounded in the shoulder by a cannon ball. I found him when I was leaving the battle ground, and carried him to Sudley’s church which was used as a hospital, and staid with hm until every one that was able to walk was compelled to leave. I first got a promise from one of the doctors, that every attention would be given him that was possible, but I feel that he was killed by the shells which were fired at the church. It was well that I left as I did, for I was not more than a few minutes from the place, when the firing commenced on the church.

Our Colonel was wounded in the thigh, and was brought safely as far as the bridge, three miles beyond Centreville, where he arrived just as the firing from the masked battery, which there opened on us, was the heaviest. He was in an ambulance, many of which were blown to pieces.

When the first shot was fired there, I, with Jno. York, one of our mess, was walking quite leisurely towards the bridge, and some tow hundred feet from it – the shot, a twelve pounder, struck behind us, bounded over our heads, and rolled down the road into the stream; then came a perfect shower of shot and shell. York took to the stream on the left, and dashing to his arm-pits, waded across. I dashed over the bridge, it being easier and quicker accomplished, and too to the woods on the right, where the shot did not seem to fall, most of it going to the left. There were dead horses, ambulances, baggage, wagons, and cannon all in a heap on the bridge. Walker is well and safe. York came into camp about the same time I did. A very heavy thunder storm is now raging, but we have just about the best arranged tent in the camp, and manage to keep dry – board floor, table in the center, &c.

Yours, truly,
Eugene H. Foley.

Brooklyn (NY) Times Union, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

* While the name in the paper is Foley, that name is not listed in the roster of the 14th NYSM (84th NYVI). However, Eugen H. Fales is listed in Co. E, and other soldiers mentioned by Foley as messmates (York, Davenport, Stone) are all found as having enlisted in Co. E. No information on Eugene H. Foley located other than a pension application for Eugene H. Foley noted as having served in the 69th New York Infantry. Hat tip to reader James McLean.

14th NYSM (84th NYVI) Roster

Eugene H. Fales at Ancestry

Eugene H. Fales at Fold3

Eugene H. Fales at FindAGrave





Lieut. William H. Burnett, Co. C, 14th N. Y. S. M., On the Battle

19 02 2019

Camp Porter, Arlington, Va.,
July 23, 1861.

Dear Father: – I sit down to write you a few lines, to inform you of the condition of ourselves and our regiment. We have had a fearful battle. We started from our encampment on Saturday about 5 o’clock, to place a picket guard out all around the woods, so as to keep the enemy from coming on us unawares. We were out till about 2 o’clock Sunday morning, and then we were called in and joined our regiment, and then our regiment joined the main body of our army and took up our line of march for the battle field. We marched all night and part of Sunday morning, till we came up to the enemy’s masked batteries and then the cannonade commenced and then the different regiments were brought up in line of battle and charged on them, and then the musketry began terrible. Our regiment made three charges, and brave charges they were. We have some of our men killed, but we cannot tell how many they were. We had a march of 65 miles in twenty-four hours, and were fighting for at least four or five hours. Capt. Myers is all right, and Lieut. Bissitt and myself. – Capt. Jordan is wounded in the shoulder. Col. Wood is wounded. Capt. Baldwin is wounded in the foot. Lieut. Jones is wounded in the head. The color bearer is shot, but I do not know whether dead or alive or taken prisoner. The men are fagged out. Our feet were blistered, our legs swollen very much from the long walk. The enemy received great loss, and our army had a good many killed and wounded. Major Jourdan has shown himself a brave man. I do not know what we would have done without him. I think he has gained the confidence of the whole regiment, bot the officers and the privates. He led the regiment on bravely. – He was at the head of us all the time, and urges us on. You cannot have any idea of the feeling there is when there is a continual cannonading and musketry, and your friends falling all around you. It is an awful feeling. I, for my part, had more pluck than I thought. I was in the thickest of it, and by the providence of Almighty God, my life was spared to see the light of another day.

From your affectionate son,
Lieut. W. H. Burnett,
Co. C., 14th Regt., N. Y. S. M.

Brooklyn Evening Star, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

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

William H. Burnett at Ancestry.com 

William H. Burnett at Fold3