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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Contributed by John Hennessy

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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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Contributed by John Hennessy

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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Contributed by John Hennessy

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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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Contributed by John Hennessy

*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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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

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.


The New York Times, 7/29/1861

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  • 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