“Juvenis,” Battery A (Reynolds), 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery, On the Battle and Retreat

22 11 2016

Army Correspondence.

Camp near Harper’s Ferry, Aug. 5th, 1861.

Mr. Editor: – I hope you have not thought that, because I have not contributed lately to your paper I was among the fallen at the battle of Bull Run. True, I was in that battle, and in the thickest of the fight for five long hours; but no missile of death was allowed by my Heavenly Father to strike me down. Members of my own company and of my own mess fell at my side, the shells burst at my feet, the spent musket balls struck me, but I am still unscathed, ready for another conflict with my country’s enemies; ready for the life long conflict with the enemy of souls, ready I hope to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to lost men.

It seems strange to me, that even the presence of death has no effect upon the minds of men. One can still hear the same coarse jests, the same profane language, the same taunts at those who speak to them of religion, as before they were surrounded by the dead and dying.

We are now encamped in a lovely place; the mountains of the Blue Ridge are on every side except where the Potomac winds through them. We have taken the 1st R. I. Battery, as their time is up, and our battery with the exception of one piece, was lost at the battle of Bull Run. Perhaps your readers would like to have a short account of that battle, which was one of the bloodiest in American history.

We were encamped between Fairfax and Centerville, and expected to remain there for some time. We had built our huts of branches, our fire places and cranes were ready for use. Sunday morning at on o’clock the bugle sounded, and the battery was harnessed up. We mounted the boxes and silently wound along the road towards Manassas Junction. There was no music, no loud command; our General wished to steal a march on the enemy. We were confident of victory, as we had confidence in our commander. We took a circuitous path through the woods, and without once having halted during the march of twelve miles, we reached the field of battle. The Rhode Island troops had the right of the line, the 2nd regiment in advance, the 1st next in order with our battery between. The first notice we had of the presence of the enemy was the volley of musketry from the woods upon our lines. The 2d regiment charged and drove them from the woods, down the hill. We were instantly ordered into action. We got into battery as quickly as possible and engaged a battery about a third of a mile from us. We soon silenced that and engaged the enemy in other parts of the field. The battle grew hotter and hotter – thicker and thicker flew the bullets, the shot, the shell. Our horses suffered severely, our men at the guns were entirely exhausted, wounded or dead. We were so thirsty that we threw ourselves into the mudy brooks and eagerly swallowed the mud and water. The enemy were retreating on every hand. Already Beauregard had sent a dispatch to Richmond, and even while we were fighting, Jeff Davis was packing up his State papers to send them to a place of safety. Bu all day there had been a constant stream of reinforcements pouring into the woods where the rebels had their head quarters. All at once the celebrated black horse cavalry charged upon us, their fresh infantry poured their volley into our ranks, their masked batteries opened upon our flank; thick as hail the shot flew; four hundred of the Zouaves were cut down. We retreated. We ran before that stream of lead and iron. No man could stand such a fire as that. The retreat became a rout; all were mingled together in dire confusion; the road was crowded with fugitives; the wounded, the wearied all rushed along together. We brought our battery off the field, and dozens of wounded men climbed upon our boxes and pieces, some with broken arms, some with broken legs, some with the blood flowing down their faces, some with their clothes red with blood. We were obliged to leave many a poor wounded, dying man who beseechingly begged us to take him upon our boxes. Those that were free from wounds were panic struck. At the least alarm every man almost would flee for his life, not knowing where he went. Thus we passed slowly along. We came out of those long woods, the dust in the road was so thick that nothing before us could be seen. We began to hope that the enemy would not disturb us, for now we had reached the direct road to Centerville, and our reserve was two or three miles before us. It began to grow dusky, for the thick dust and the woods on either side of the road hid the setting sun; all at once into that dense mass of men, horses and wagons, the enemy from a masked battery poured their shell; the musketry opened upon them; their cavalry charged upon them. What a scene! We were just at the bridge, but upon it was piled the government baggage wagons. We could not pass with our battery; for it was a narrow bridge, and there were deep gullies on each side. Our drivers cut the traces, we left the wounded men to save our own lives, and helter skelter we dashed on towards Centerville. The cavalry of the enemy charged upon us, and many a poor soldier fell before their sabres. We soon met the reserve coming up under Colonel Miles, but still we hurried on through that long dark night; morning dawned, and still we had not halted; Washington and the long bridge hove in sight, and we sank down upon the ground exhausted! for we had eaten nothing since Saturday. We had marched ten or twelve miles to the battle field without halting, we had fought through that hot day, we had marched nearly forty miles from the battle field to Washington. Thus we fought, thus we retreated.

I will not say upon whose head a terrible retribution should be visited. We long for an opportunity to wipe off the disgrace of that day.

O! how much pleasanter we spent the hours of the last Sabbath (the 4th inst.) Though separated from our regiment, we had religious services. We repaired to a huge pile of rocks shaded by tall trees, and there one of our number preached to to us the gospel of Christ. It seemed lik a heaven below.

Juvenis.*

Boston Christian Era, 8/16/1861

Clipping image

*In Latin, Juvenis is a young man or a youth. The root of juvenile.

The History of Battery A, First Regiment Rhode Island Light Artillery

Contributed by John J. Hennessy





The Father of Pvt. Theodore W. King, 1st RI, Searches For His Son

10 08 2011

Washington D.C

July 29, 1861

Dear Sir,

I venture from the friendly acquaintance I had with you at Newport Rhode Island to write you on a most distressing calamity which [fallen?] upon myself and family. My son, Theodore Wheaton King a private of Company F 1st Regiment of the Rhode Island Volunteers, was severely wounded at Manassas on Sunday last. He enlisted on his way to school for three months for the defence of Washington. His term of service had expired, and we were expecting him to return home when the unfortunate resolve was made to advance into Virginia.

His wound was on the outer and upper part of the thigh, or hip. Though wounded early in the action, he was entirely neglected by the surgeons though the retreat did not commence for some hours after. Of the degree of severity of his wound it is impossible for me to judge. Some of the soldiers said that he walked by the aid of some companions to within thirty feet of the temporary Hospital, where he was left neglected, under the shade of some trees surrounded by the killed and wounded. Some stray fellow soldiers passed him about the time of the retreat, to whom he made inquiries as to the condition of things and asked to be taken along, but fear had destroyed all manly feelings. They said that his voice was then good and his countenance unaltered. He was then left among the killed and wounded near the Battlefield–several of the Confederate Army were dying near him.

Upon receiving a telegram of his being wounded and left near the field of battle I came immediately to Washington, hoping to reach him. But you may imagine my deep distress at not being able to come into Virginia to succor my son, if alive, or to protect, and possess his body, if dead.

My son was nineteen years of age of stout frame, with full muscular development, light brown hair, large forehead, and was about five feet eight or ten inches high. Should it not be too inconsistent with your army regulations, I wish to be allowed to come into Virginia to see my son if alive, or to search for his body if dead. If that privilege cannot be allowed, will you, my dear sir, act for his Father, and spare no expense in aiding him, if alive or in having his body found, and his place of departure designated. In the last case, I should like his hat and clothes preserved, if possible. I have no need to appeal to your humanity, and good feelings. I am sure that you will do all in your power to aid my family they, overwhelmed by sorrow and distress. I shall remain in Washington at 486 12th Street at Mr. CB King’s as long as may be necessary to hear of the condition or fate of my son.

Very Respectfully Yours

David King M.D.

of Newport R.I.

To Col Porcher Miles

of General Beauregard’s Staff

Richmond Virginia

P.S. I enclose a photograph of my son, though very poorly taken. If dead it may be the means of designating his body.

*************************************

Richmond

Aug. 10th 1861

W. Porcher Miles

Dear Sir-

Dr. King’s son, T.W. King, is in the main [St?] prison hospt. in this city. The surgeon in charge represents him as doing very well– I return the letter.

Very Truly Yours

[Samuel P. Moore, Surg. Gen.?]

Transcription and Photo & Letter Image

Notes





Notes on Letter to Pvt. Albert Penno, Co. D, 1st RI

4 08 2011

The following notes accompany the transcription of this letter and can be found at The Civil War Day by Day, maintained by the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The good folks there have given me permission to add some of their wonderful collection to the resources here – more to come.

Letter from Lucinda M. [Hayne?] to her husband Albert B. Penno, a private in Company D of the 1st Regiment of Rhode Island Volunteers. The following words are written on the front of the envelope included with this letter, “Found on field, Bull Run, July 21 ’61.” This note is believed to be in the hand of Edward Porter Alexander, a Confederate officer who was also present at the Battle of Bull Run.

Albert Penno was wounded on 21 July 1861 (three days after the date of this letter), at the Battle of First Bull Run. Penno was then taken as a prisoner of war to Richmond, Va., and died on 2 August 1861 of his wounds.





Letter to Pvt. Albert Penno, Co. D, 1st RI

4 08 2011

Providence July 18 1861

My Dear husband

I sent myself to pen you a few lines not knowing whether they will ever reach you, god grant that it may and find you in good health as it leaves us all at home. I tell you what the last two days have been lonesome enough. Sometimes I feel as if I never should see you again, but I hope I shall. I see by the papers that you are in the midst of the Battle and that one of the 2nd regiment has got wounded and that your regiment took the secession flag from the Fairfax Courthouse. I suppose we shall know all about it in a few days when the first regiment gets home. They say here that they will be home next week. I suppose it will be a great day when they came home but it will be gloomy enough for me to see them come and know that you are left behind if you are only spared to get home once more you won’t get away again that is if I can have my way. I received a letter from you yesterday in it you say you want me to keep up good spirits. I try to but it comes hard sometimes, I can’t put my mind on my work or any thing else for I feel as if I had lost all the friends I had. Lizzie is all life expecting Albert home. I should like to see you tonight but I can’t so I will try to content myself by looking at your picture. But as much as I want to see you I should rather you would never come than to have you sent home as those fellows were last week, their names published in the papers and what they was sent home for. I want you to take good care of yourself and do the best you can and I hope all will be well. Do write as often as you can and I will do the same. I sent you yesterday by Mr. Grant one pound of tobacco and should have sent something more if I could. My will was good enough, but I had not the means. I have got to wait for a letter from you before I can get my money for if they know that I did not send the check there I could not get it. I am sorry you did not see that it was right before you left for I have needed it very much. Mr. Wightman and Saunders was in here tonight and said that Mr. Pratt was going on there to morrow and if I wanted to send any thing they would get him to take it ask I had nothing else I thought a few lines might be acceptable. He belongs to the first regiment. Don’t laugh at this scribbling for I am so uneasy to night that I can’t write. Don’t blame me to much for finding fault for I don’t mean to. I don’t know of anything more. Give my love to Daron and Dick and to your friends Charly and George. The children and myself send our love and best wishes to you and hope you will soon return at home. The Roys all send their love and Hannah, Marty, & John to you and Dick from your loving and affectionate wife.

Lucinda M. [Hayne?]

Transcription and letter image – transcription amended by Bull Runnings in bold

Notes