Sgt. Hugh R. “Rennie” Richardson, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

25 10 2016

Letter from Sergeant Richardson.

Perhaps as graphic an account of the fight and retreat as has been furnished by any of our boys is the following from Rennie Richardson of the Lancaster Co. The friend to whom it was addressed giving us permission to publish. – Rennie’s honest indignation at the brutality of the Southern Miscreants in bayoneting our wounded, and his enquiry if the people of the North will endure it unrevenged, wakes a kindred feeling in the breasts of all but traitors and their sympathizers. We give the letter near verbatim.

Washington, D. C.,

Tuesday, July 22, 1861.

Friend Hod: – I received your letter to-day and read it with great pleasure. Our regiment has been out to fight and have got defeated. – The first day they took Fairfax Court House then marched on to Centreville took that and Sunday morning about 2 o’clock, they started for Bull’s Run; they calculated to take them by surprise but were found to be ready for us. We took two of their masked batteries. – In the first place we sent two regiments ahead for guard, when they got into the woods they did not see any thing, but the — rebels opened fire upon them with their masked batteries and cut them all to pieces. Then our column marched up and as soon as they got into the woods, the Rebels opened fire upon them from both sides of the road and cut them down like grass before the scythe. But them Fire Zouaves, Ellsworth’s men marched up in front of the enemy as cool as though they were going to fire at a mark. The enemy opened upon them with two masked batteries and the shells and balls went into them like hail stones, but they stood there like marble pillars and fired into the rebels and took two batteries; but the — rascals opened the third upon them and they could not stand that a great while. They did not flinch a hair. They marched in with 1000 men and came out with 300. Oh, they fought awfully! The bomb shells would come and you would bow your head and they would pass over you; some of them would take off a leg some an arm and some a head; some killed horses; one took Gov. Sprague’s horse’s head off passed along killed Col. Burnside’s horse and did not hurt a man. You never saw so much bowing in one day in your life as there was there yesterday. There was a great many of our Regiment killed and a great many of our company.

Oh, Hod, if you could have seen our Regiment coming home this morning it would have made your blood run cold; some with one shoe on, some barefoot, some in their stocking feet. They had nothing to eat from Sunday morning at 2 o’clock but once until Monday.

Them — — rebels would not let us go and get our wounded but they would stab and shoot them when they passed them. If the men of the north will stay at home and let that be done they are no men at all, — ’em.

Our Colonel was shot through his arm and will have to lose it. Our first Lieutenant was shot and one of our Sergeants.*



*Col. Marston’s wound is likely to prove less severe than reported. He will not lose his arm by latest accounts. As no mention is made of Lieut. Littlefield being severely wounded we presume he was not severely injured. The Sergeant alluded to is L. W. Brackett of Milan. – Ed. Repub.

Lancaster, NH, Coos Republican, 7/30/1861

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History of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

Hugh R. Richardson in the Congressional Record, 1902

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

Sgt. Charles W. Fletcher, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

20 10 2016

Letter from Sergeant Fletcher.

We are permitted to make the following extracts from a letter from Sergeant C. W. Fletcher of the Lancaster Company. The writer is entirely reliable and his narrative will be read with interest”

Camp Sullivan, Washington, D. C.,

Tuesday, July 23d, 1861.

Dear Parents: – You doubtless have heard of the battle at Bull’s Run, and in fact all the way along from there to Manassas. Will, I suppose you are anxious to know who is dead and who is alive. I wrote you when at Fairfax. – Well we pushed forward almost to Centreville and camped until Sunday morning at 2 o’clock, when we arose, ate a brakefast of hard bread and pushed forward with our column – a forced march of sixteen miles. When we arrived the head of the column had engaged the rebels, and without a minutes rest we were rushed into the heat of the battle amid a raking fire of shot, ball and shell from the enemies batteries. Our men fell like rain, but we had batteries playing into them, and they suffered too. We bought about one and a half hours, when we silenced their batteries and they retreated. Co’ Marston was badly wounded in the shoulder with a grape shot. We held our position a few minutes when they returned with a large reinforcement and we were repulsed; but we rallied upon them again and silenced some of their batteries. Meanwhile tremendous fighting with musketry and cavalry was kept up and things seemed to go in out favor until they opened a hotter fire than ever upon us, and as our artillery had run out of ammunition, we were obliged to retreat after a fight of five hours. During the fight we lost our haversacks and blankets, so we had nothing to eat. We were obliged to leave the sounded behind us to the mercy of the rebels. The surgeons were obliged to quit the building used as a hospital, and the rebels came up and burned it, wounded men and all.

We had retreated a few miles when we came to what is called Bull’s Run Bridge, where they had sent a detachment to cut off our retreat. – They had planted a battery and torn up the bridge, and the way they threw the shells among we poor tired fellows, was a caution; but we made our escape as best we could. They killed a good many and captured some wagons and several pieces of artillery, and took a great many prisoners. At Centerville we had a reserved force and they did not follow us up any farther. We left the force there, but for some reason it was thought best to keep up the retreat to Washington, and we marched all night and arrived in Washington about twelve o’clock, Monday; hungry and worn out; and well we might be, for within thirty-six hours we marched sixty-two miles and fought five hours without eating or sleeping, and almost without drinking. What do you think of that? I am as stiff as an old cart horse; my feet are all raw and I have a bad cold settled on my lungs. But God saw fit to spare me through the battle. I saw the boys fall around me and yet I was unharmed. It is hard telling who is missing and who is not.

It was an awful battle, and I guess you will find it was one of the bloodiest ever fought on this continent. The force was large on both sides and the line of battle must have reached four or five miles. They had all the advantage of the ground, and placed their batteries accordingly. Their infantry and cavalry were in the woods skulking about Indian like, and then there was a mistake among our commanders – the blow being struck too soon, as the other divisions had not arrived to help us. They enemy’s loss must have been very large, but the thing of it is they took a good many of our men prisoners. We have no means of telling how great the loss is at present.

I will now come down to our own regiment. – They, some of them, lagged behind in the retreat, and they keep coming in a few at a time. How many may come along we cannot tell; but at present we have not got half our number. And to come down to our company; we went on to the field with seventy men and have got back with about thirty; but we hope more of them will turn up soon. Our first Lieutenant, Littlefield, is missing. Our Capt. has gone back after him. Sergeant Brackett is doubtless killed or taken prisoner. I saw Cyrus Merrill shot dead, and any amount of others killed or wounded. Ellsworth’s Zouaves went on to the field nine hundred strong and returned with a little over one hundred.

You have read of battles and seen pictures, but the real thing is something else. Words cannot describe it; the noise and confusion; the shrieks and groans of the wounded and dying; to see your friends fall around you; to see a shell burst and blow a head off here and an arm or leg there; then a fire of grape shot mowing men in every direction, and a perfect buzz of musket and rifle ball all the time; such was our position for five long hours, and then the most heartrending of all is to think we had to come off and leave the wounded scattered on the field to die, or perhaps to be finished by a blow from a rebel. All I can say is, it is thought here to have been a terrible battle, and I can testify to the truth of that. A few days will determine our loss, better than we can tell now. Why I was spared more than others and still in the heat of it all the time, I cannot tell; but it must have been the hand of the Almighty that guided the balls by on the other side.

Affectionately yours,


Lancaster, NH, Coos Republican, 7/30/1861

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History of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

Charles W. Fletcher at Iowa Gravestones

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

Capt. Thomas Snow, Co.F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle (Casualty List)

14 10 2016

Letter from Capt. Snow of the Lancaster Company.


Full Particulars of the Participation of the 2nd N. H. Regiment in the Fight at Manassas, with an Accurate Account of the Killed, Wounded and Missing

The following, from a letter from Capt. Snow of our company, to the editor of this paper, will be read with particular interest as containing information regarding the share that the 2nd N. H. Regiment and the Company from Coos had in the great fight of Manassas. During the engagement and the subsequent retreat, Capt. Snow himself, behaved with the most determined bravery and exhibited throughout, the qualities of a soldier. Brave and decided on the battle field, kind an considerate to his command, [?] has proved himself an officer worthy [?] brave soldiers. His company [?] of him in terms of the warmest [?]. But to the letter:

Camp Sullivan, Washington, D. C.,

August 3d, 1861.

Our Regiment left camp, Tuesday, July 16th.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Of our march to our encampment, near Centerville, you have been informed, so I will not rehearse the matter. We left our camp Sunday morning at 2 o’clock, without breakfast, and marched, I should judge, 16 miles, going the last mile at double quick. Our stock of water was nearly, if not quite expended and we were better fitted for a bed-room than a battle field, notwithstanding which we were ordered to take a position on a hill, where the enemy played into us with their batteries and rifles. We were soon ordered to retire a few rods, which we did and waited there until we were ordered to leave that position and support the R. I. Battery, which was menaced by the enemy. In this movement my company was on the left of the regiment. We went through a perfect hailstorm of bullets; and not hearing any order to march in any different direction, I kept on, while the Regiment moved off by the right flank. Finding my company separated from the Regiment, and not being able to see where our Regiment was, I marched my men down to a fence, (Virginia, of course,) near a large hay-stack, where we had a good view of a portion of the rebels and I told them to blaze away, which they did. We remained here in connection with the Rhode Island 1st, I think it was, until fearing that we could not find our Regiment, and seeing the rebels retreat to the woods, I ordered the company back and sent them, in charge of Lieut. Littlefield, to find it. In the meantime I remained in search of my sword, which had, by a bullet, been knocked from my scabbard; I could not find it and returned with a musket instead. Our boys, with one or two exceptions, behaved well. Sergeants Crafts, Rhodes, Fletcher and Brackett were at the fight and all did nobly. We were sorry to have Charley (Fletcher) leave us; he is a fine fellow and a good soldier. Sergt. Louville W. Brackett, who is among the missing, was not injured in the battle, and started with us on the retreat; he might have been killed, wounded or taken prisoner when the rebels attacked our retreating, worn-out forces; but we cannot tell which. He was beloved by the whole company for his amiable disposition, and we miss his pleasant countenance very much; I am in hopes he will turn up all right by and by. I found the Regiment under another iVirginia fencei waiting orders. The battery had shifted or advanced as the rebels retreated toward their stronghold. Soon Col. Marston appeared with his arm in a sling, his horse being led by his hostler, and announced his intention to go with us to the end. “He meant to see this thing through.” We soon had orders to march again. We started down the hill toward the enemy, entered the hollow, were ordered again to halt for orders. Here we were exposed to another murderous fire. It was on approaching this place that Capt. Rollins was shot. We lost a number of men here, and still we stopped waiting for orders. No orders came; but there was no flinching of the New Hampshire boys. Soon Col. Fisk ordered us up over another hill. We had a few shots at them, but they were apparently harmless, while their rifles and cannon were making great havoc in our ranks. We were forced to retreat to a small run, close by which grew some small trees. – These sheltered us from the scorching rays of the sun, but afforded us no shelter from the enemy’s bullets. But we were thankful for small favors, and so as Maj. Ben. Perley Poore commanded his savages, so did we – “squat.” We were not permitted to enjoy even this luxury for long, for in a few moments an Aid came rushing up to Maj. Stevens, saying, “The retreat is ordered. Be quick or you will be cut off by the enemy’s cavalry.” We got up over the next hill, shot and shell flying over our heads, and on the top of the hill we formed our line in full view of the rebels as they threw out their legions of fresh soldiers, infantry and cavalry to pursue us. Thus began the retreat of which enough has been written. The report that the rebels shelled and burned our hospital, I have good reason to believe is untrue, and I really believe that Clark Stevens, who was in the hospital, (not severely wounded as has been reported, having received a flesh wound to the thigh,) is now a prisoner in the hands of the rebels. Cyrus W. Merrill also in the hospital, was wounded in the breast; I think from the nature of his wound he could not survive. These are the only two we left behind, known to have been wounded, and if any of our missing are killed or wounded, it must have been done on our retreat. I will give you a correct list of the killed, wounded and missing for the entire Regiment; it is as follows:


Co. A – John L. Rice.
Co. C – Lewis N. Relation, W. H. Quimby.
Co. H – Frank H. Eastman, Parrish Kearnes, Geo. Langtrey, Henry S. Morse.


Co. A – Geo S. Heaton, Dana S. Jaquith, Geo. A. Whiteman, Chas. Sebastian, Dan’l S. Brooks, John F. Wheeler.
Co. B – Thomas E. Barker, Wells C. Haynes, Geo. H. Clay, Geo. C. Emerson, John S. Fitts, Wyman W. Holden, Charles H. Perry, Henry Morse, Cha’s S. Cooper.
Co. C – Frank K. Tucker, Dan’l Martin, Thurlow A. Emerson, John Davis, J. A. Barker, Hannibal Ball, Joseph Barly, Frank F. Wetherbee.
Co. D – 1st Sergt. Jacob Hall, Privates Henry H. Emerson, Alden T. Kidder, Christel L. Jones, Henry West, Alphonzo D. Leathers.
Co. E – W. Colcord, Cha’s H. Chase, Simon N. Heath, Joseph R. Morse.
Co. F – Sergt. Louville W. Brackett, Private Geo. E. Dow, Cyrus W. Merrill, Clark Stevens.
Co. G – Alonzo B. Bailey, Henry A. Bowman, Wilson Hurd.
Co. H – Henry Allen, Lewis G. Barber, Galen A. Grant, Sam’l M. Joy, Timothy Saxton, Wm. H. Connor, Woodbury Lord, Albion Lord, Andrew J. Straw, Wm. H. Walker.
Co. I – Albert B. Robinson, John H. Barry, Albert L. Hall, Moses L. Eastman, Reuben F. Stevens.
Co. K – Wm. T. Spinney, Lewis Blaisdell, Geo, Sawyer, Cha’s Ridge, Oliver S. Allen, Wm. T. Orford, Christopher Marshall, Sam’l Adams.


Co. A, Keene – I. M. Derby, D. W. Whittemore.
Co. B, Concord – 1st Sergt. Cha’s Holmes, Cha’s Hosmer, Cha’s Wilkins
Co. C, Manchester – Andrew M. Connell, L. D. Shurburne
Co. D, Dover – Capt. Hiram Rollins, James N. Venner, Stephen M. Deshor, Joseph F. Ayers, John O. Hayes, John F. Lord.
Co. E, Concord – Sergt. H. M. Gordon, Privates Wm. Hurly, James C. Meserve, Wm. H. Story, Wm. H. Merrill.
Co. F, Lancaster – Geo. F. Chase, 2 fingers shot off left hand; Wm. H. F. Staples, in forearm, arm broken; Stephen R. Tibbetts, thro’ the hand; Cha’s Buck, in left shoulder, is at Alexandria hospital doing well.
Co. G, Petersborough – John Hagan, Geo. F. Lawrence.
Ch. H, Contoocook – Hugh Looby, James B. Silver, John Straw, Tho’s Finnegan.
Co. I – Manchester – Frank C. Wesley, Geo. F. Lawrence.
Co. K, Portsmouth – W. H. Goodwin, James E. Seavy, Alexander Steward, Wm. S. King, Dan’l Kelegan

Total – Killed, 9

Wounded, 35

Missing, 63

Aggregate, 107

Lancaster, NH, Coos Republican, 8/13/1861

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History of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

Thomas Snow at

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

Handcuffs “For Officers”

2 09 2015

Handcuffs “For Officers.” – The Dispatch says:

A gentleman who has been over the battlefield where the abolition forces were recently routed, says that one of the captured wagons containing boxes holding 500 pairs of handcuffs, the cases being labled “for officers.” The enemy sought to relieve themselves of the infamy of carrying such impliments of war, but the above fixes the fact upon them. Noting would make the creaturs opposed to us ashamed of any one of their measures, but the above is one as entirely new and novel in the annals of war as it is infamous to those who sought to use it. Truly the bitter chalice is held to their own lips with a vengeance.

Newbern [NC] Weekly Progress, 8/6/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

For more on Handcuffs and Bull Run, click here.

Thornberry House

21 11 2014

This past Saturday I paid a visit to Manassas National Battlefield Park. One of the spots we hit was the north end of the park, the area of the Thornberry House and Sudley Church. The Thornberry children were used by photographers Barnard and Gibson in many of their March 1862 photos of the battlefield, and the house was used as a hospital in both battles of Manassas. It was near this house that Sullivan Ballou’s body was buried and subsequently dug up, mutilated, and burned (see here, here, and here.) Laura Thornberry later recorded her recollections of the battle. And here are some images of the house and surroundings I recorded earlier. Below are the images from Saturday, November 15, 2014. Click for much larger images.

Interpretive Marker

Interpretive Marker

House from west

House from west

House from south

House from south

Looking south down Sudley Road trace, west of Thornberry house

Looking south down Sudley Road trace, west of Thornberry house

Thornberry House 1862

Thornberry House 1862

George Palmer Putnam, Publisher, On the Retreat, With Incidents of the Battle

29 08 2014

The Affair of the Twenty-First.

George P. Putnam, the publisher, was an eye witness of the retreat of Sunday and Monday, and says:

The reports of a disorderly retreat of our main army are grossly untrue. A brief statement of a small part of what I witnessed will show this.

Mr. Tilley of Rhode Island and myself accompanied the De Kalb Regiment[*] from Alexandria in the cars to the Fairfax station on the Manassas Gap Railroad; we reached there at 10 A.M. Heavy cannonading was steadily going on. While the regiment waited for orders we walked forward on the track till within five miles of Manassas Junction. A scout was there sending hourly reports to General Scott of the firing. Returning, as the regiment still halted, a party of four of us, with a soldier, walked on the Fairfax Court House three miles, and thence on the road to Centreville.

About f o’clock we began to meet buggies and wagons with visitors returning to Washington. All reported that the day was ours, and rode on jubilant, until, at half past 4, an officer on horseback, riding fiercely, said, with emphasis, “No, no, it’s going against us.” The firing had ceased.

Near Centreville, between two long hills, we suddenly saw army wagons and private vehicles coming down before us in hot haste – a few soldiers on horseback mixed in with the crowd. Looking back we w found a regiment coming fresh from Fairfax in “double quick.”

Mr. Russel, of the London Times, was on horseback among the first from the battle.

The New Jersey Colonel instantly formed his men across the road, and resolutely turned back every soldier in the road, and in twenty minutes perfect order was restored, and the whole flight of the vehicles was shown to be absurd, so much so that we waited two hours at that spot, drawing water for the poor wounded men, who began to limp along from the field; only two or three ambulances to be seen.

At half past six, two hours after the battle was over, we started [?] [?] back to Fairfax Court House, [?] [?] [?] four wounded soldiers into the wagon.

Those who were [?] [?] [?] [?] got by the Jersey boys, were stopped by a company of the Michigan Fourth, from Fairfax, and compelled to turn back.

At Fairfax Court House we quietly took supper at the tavern, and never [dreaming] of any disorderly retreat, we were supplied with good beds; we undressed and went to sleep at 11 P.M. At three o’clock Monday morning, finding the wagons were moving on the Alexandria, we started again and walked quietly along with them to Alexandria, doing what little we could to aid the men more or less slightly wounded, or worn out, including some from the hospital – for still there was scarcely an ambulance to be seen.

But on the whole road from Centerville to Alexandria, I am confident that there were not five hundred soldiers in all, between 6 P.M. and day-light; so that it is grossly untrue that the whole army made a hasty retreat. On the contrary, all seemed to be certain that a stand was made at Centerville, of the whole of our main body, excepting only the stragglers from this first panic. The panic was explained by several who agreed it was purely accidental.

I talked with at least forty from Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin regiments who gave me some thrilling incidents of different parts of the field – which I have no time to tell now – many grumbled at [?] [?], but all seemed plucky, and said that our troops could beat the rebels easily in an open fight, and would do it yet – but the masked batteries on one side and the blunders on ours had “done for us this time.” I reached Alexandria at seven – having walked forty miles.

— The following incidents of the battle form the first chapter of the volume of history and legend that will grow out of it:

— A spectator of the [?] tells me that the Zouaves literally decimated the Black Horse Cavalry, the celebrated rebel troop. About the middle of the battle the Zouaves fired by platoon upon the rebel infantry stationed in the woods. After they had fired they discovered a troop of horse coming down on their rear. — They carried the American flag, which deceived Col. Heintzelman, and made him believe they were United States Cavalry, and  he so told the Zouaves. As they came nearer, their true character was discovered, but too late for all the Zouaves to reload. The regiment faced and received the cavalry as they came down, with leveled bayonets which threw them into confusion. Then away went muskets, and the Zouaves went in withe their knives and pistols. They seized horses and stabbed their riders. In this hand-to-hand conflict the Black Horse Troop were handled in their own preferred way of fighting. — The [?] showed the Zouaves to be the most expert handlers of the knife. When the fight was over, there were not twenty of the four hundred cavalry left alive. Men and horses had been cut to pieces by the infuriated red-shirts. This troop of cavalry had boasted they would picket their horses in the grounds of the White House.

— Mr. Russel of The London Times, who witnessed at Inkerman and elsewhere in the Crimea the fiercest infantry charges on record, says they were surpassed by those of our Firemen Zouaves, Sixty-ninth, and other regiments. The best fighting ever done on the globe was that by a large portion of the defenders of the [?] at Bull’s Run.

— Our greatest deficiency was in cool and [???]. The men fought [?] and were ready for anything which experienced commanders would order them to do. Gen. McDowell behaved admirably. He was active, [?] and attended to everything in person as far as possible; but he had not a sufficient staff, and was not properly supported by his subordinates. — Major Wadsworth of New York, one of his aids, showed the utmost gallantry and devotion. He exerted himself to rally the forces when they first fell back, and towards the close, after having his horse shot under him, seized the colors of the wavering New York Fourteenth, and called on the boys to rally once more for another charge, but without success. Major Wadsworth, as the Army retreated, remained at Fairfax Court House, and devoted himself to purchasing everything needful for the wounded. of whom about a hundred and fifty were at that place.

— A number of the Second New York saw the rebel sharp-shooters fire upon and kill two vivandieres who were giving [?] and [?] to the wounded. The rebels also shout at ambulances bringing off the wounded. They also fired point blank at the buildings used as hospitals, and it is said by some that they fired the buildings.

— Lieut. Col. Haggerty of the Sixty-ninth, was killed in a charge. When his body was found, his throat was cut from ear to ear, and his ears and nose were cut off. Many of the sounded were found thus disfigured.

— A member of the New York Sixty-ninth says:

Thos. Francis  Meagher was the most conspicuous man on the field, riding on a white horse, with his hat off, and going into the battle most enthusiastically. At one time our regimental color was taken, and Meagher seized the green flag of Ireland, and went to the front, leading the men to the charge. The color was recaptured, the enemy was driven back, and the we formed in hollow square, by orders, and retreated steadily off the ground.

— A Union man living near Fairfax assured our informants he had seen the intrenchments at Manassas, and that there were nine miles of batteries there.

— The number of killed and wounded is got by Gen. Mansfield at less than 1,000, and by Gen. McDowell at from 500 to 700.

— Senator Lane, of Indiana, gives it as his opinion that the reason of the panic was an order given to the batteries to return to a certain point for ammunition, and this apparently retreating movement of batteries produced consternation and panic. By other the order to retreat, which assisted to change the fortunes of Sunday, is ascribed to Gen. Miles, of the Army, who commanded the fifth division.

— The Zouaves, after taking one battery, were rushing upon another , when those behind it cried out, “For God’s sake, don’t shoot your brothers.” Upon this, the Zouaves reserved their fire, until artillery was poured in upon them by the battery from which the supplications had come.

— It is well authenticated that in several instances our men fired upon each other. Company [?] of the Thirty-eighth Regiment New York Volunteers, suffered severely form such a mischance.

— When the colors of the Sixty-ninth were captured by the Virginians, two of them seized the flags and were going off with them, when Lieut. Matthews, of Company K, Fire Zouaves, fired and killed both the Virginians, and recovered the flags.

— Capt. Wildey, of Company I, Zouaves, killed two out of four Mississippians who were dragging a gun. All our men agree in representing that the rebel infantry will not stand a fair fight, even with three to our one. They gave way whenever attacked, when not supported by artillery.

— There is every reason now to believe, from concurrent reports, that a retreating panic seized the confederate army at the same time some of our regiments began their hasty and wild exodus from the scene of carnage.

— Capt. T. F. Meagher had a horse shot under him, but is untouched. All out losses were in advancing – none in falling back. There was no panic in front. This was confined mainly to the wagon drivers, straggling soldiers and fugitive officers, and the rear of the column.

— Our loss in field pieces is not so great as heretofore estimated. Every gun of Capt. Ayres’ battery, formerly Sherman’s, was brought off safe – only some caissons being lost. The loss of baggage wagons will not exceed fifty. In small arms, our loss is at least three thousand.

— The Colonels of our regiments appear to have been in the thickest of the fight, if we may judge by the casualties. The returns show four killed and seven wounded. There were thirty-six in the engagement, which gives a ratio of one in three killed or wounded.

— Gen. Cameron, who went to Manassas intending to witness the battle, was so impressed with  the doubtful character of the attempt to force the enemy’s position, that he returned in haste to Washington to [?], if possible, the orders which had been issued for an attack, but arrived too late. He immediately pressed forward, however, all the available troops to strengthen the Reserve Corps. Our officers had little hope of winning the battle, on Saturday night. A prominent Member of Congress who was there, after an interview with General McDowell and his aids, wrote down his conviction that we should lose it, and that the commanding General was hopeless at the commencement of the battle. We learn from another source that this was the general feeling among the officers. One captain remonstrated against the madness of the assault. Gen. McDowell said that a victory at this juncture was so important, that a great risk must be run to win it.

— It is believed the loss of the Fire Zouaves will not exceed 100, and that of the N.Y. 71st 60. Stragglers are continually coming in, but they are scattered through the different camps, so that the muster roles of different regiments can not yet be arranged, and the exact losses ascertained.

— A prisoner who was brought in, in the course of the battle, declared that Gen. Johnston was shot, and fell from his horse at his feet. When Col. Burnside fell from his killed horse, he conversed for a moment with a rebel officer, who asked him whether he was wounded, when he replied, “Only slightly.” “I am mortally wounded,” said the rebel, “and can have no object in deceiving you. I assure you that we have 90,000 men in and within forty minutes of Manassas Junction.”

— The New York Herald’s dispatch says:

The whole of Sherman’s battery is saved.

Col. Blenker, commanding a brigade in the division of Col. Miles, which brought up the rear of the retreating column, picked up on the way the guns of Burnside’s R.I. regiment that had been left behind, and brought them in. The horses had been detached for the purpose of bringing in the wounded.

Hon. Alfred Ely, of the Rochester district, and his companion on the field, Mr. Bing, have not been heard of since the battle. They were last seen near one of the batteries, and are supposed to have been taken prisoners.

Capt. Griffin lost 60 of the horses attached to his battery, but brought away one gun and the forge.

If a stand had been made at Centerville, the enemy would probably never have discovered the advantage accidentally gained.

Col. McCunn, of the 37th N.Y. regiment, is in command at Fort Ellsworth. His brigade consists of the 37th New York, Lieut Col. Burke commanding, the 14th, 16th, 26th, 15th and [?] New York [???].

Col. Corcoran, of the 69th Irish Regiment, and Capt Edward A. Wild, Massachusetts regiment, are missing. It is feared that Corcoran is dead.

Lieut. Chandler, Co. A., Massachusetts 1st, is not dead as reported.

Ellsworth Zouaves punished the Black Horse Rangers very severely by lying flat on the ground feigning death, until they were almost upon them, when rising and giving one of their fiendish war yells, each Zouave picked his man and fired, decimating the detachment, and stampeding their horses without riders.

Oneida [Utica, New York] Weekly Herald, 7/30/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

George P. Putnam Wikipedia (G. P. was the grandfather of his namesake publisher, who was also husband of aviator Amelia Earhart.)

* 41st New York Infantry, in Runyon’s Division

J. H. G., Co. H, 71st NYSM, On the Battle (1)

27 03 2013

Washington Navy Yard, July 23, 1861.

To the Editors of the Sunday Mercury:

Since my last from here, we have had a terrific battle, which, you will learn by the telegraphic accounts, resulted in our being repulsed, although the loss on our side is small in comparison with that of the enemy. The battle commenced at 9 A.M., on Sunday, 21st inst., the first engaged being the Seventy-first and the Rhode Island First and Second Regiments. We opened a heavy fire of musketry on the Alabamians, and slaughtered them badly. We could see them fall one after another very fast. They returned our fire with great activity and killed many of us, and wounded some thirty of our boys; and, the killed is supposed to be about ten, although we were at first reported badly cut up. We stood our ground well, and were the last to leave the field. Our colors were completely riddled, and a shell passed through the centre of the flag, just above the color-bearer’s head. We had almost succeeded in taking the battery on our left, when, by a ruse, the rebels stopped our firing by raising the Stars and Stripes. We thought they were our friends, and stopped firing, whereby a great advantage was gained by them. We were marched some twenty miles, and then entered the fight much worn out, but, nevertheless, we sustained the previous good reputation of the gallant Seventy-first, of Gotham. One of our Company H was struck by a cannon-ball in the face, which carried away his upper jaw and part of the nose – a horrid sight indeed. Another was struck by a ball in the thigh; he fell near me, and exclaimed: “My God, I’m shot!” One other was wounded in the left hand; and our gallant Lieut Embler was also wounded in the fleshy part of the leg, but it will not prove serious, we all hope. He is a brave man and gentleman. Col. Martin lost his horse, and had to foot it during the engagement. He walked up and down, cheering the boys and encouraging us on to victory. We finally all retreated in order, and reached Washington on Monday. Capt. Ellis was wounded slightly. Only four of our boys are missing. The rebels were seen cutting the throats of our wounded and bayoneting them to death. Oh, what a terrible sight! I hope never to see it again. The groans and cries of the wounded were too horrible to be depicted, amid the roaring cannon and the bursting of shell over and around us. Our total loss is about thirty in all. But few balls fell among us, as they were fired too high as a general thing. We expect to be home on Friday. The boys are under orders to leave for home to-morrow (Thursday), and all is bustle and confusion. I can write no more at present, but hoping you will set matters all right with relatives and friends of the regiment, believe me, yours, as ever, in the Union cause.

J. H. G.

Co. H, Seventy-first Regiment N.Y.S.M.

New York Sunday Mercury, 7/28/1861

William B. Styple, ed., Writing and Fighting the Civil War: Soldier Correspondence to the New York Sunday Mercury, pp. 34-35