Unknown Irishman, Co. B, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

29 06 2020

From the Manchester Journal
A CHARACTERISTIC LETTER.

From an Irishman in the Castelton Company of the 2d Vt. Regiment:

Bush Hill, Fairfax Co.
July 26, 1861.

Dear Friend Patrick, – I received your letter last night with the greatest pleasure. It is the first word I have heard from any of my old friends since I have been here, and anything that comes from Vermont seems worth more to me than the whole Southern States. Patrick you asked me if I was in that fight. Oh, yes indeed I was, and God only knows what a fight we had to: it was one of the hardest battles ever fought. It was a very hot day, and we were very much furtuiged on so long a march, but we fought very brave, but all in vain. There were only 20,000 of our men, and they had about 90,000, and was fresh and hid in the woods, and had 48 rifel cannon behind heavy breastworks. We only had 20 pieces of cannon, and in an open field, and after we got out of ammunitions we was forced to retreat for our lives, and left them in possession of the field, and as the d–d savages ralied on us they run our wounded men through with their bayornets, and burned an old house where there was a good many of our wounded caried to have their wounds dressed. They took all the advantage they could. They raised the stars and stripes once, and we thought they were going to give up, but when we got clost up to them drawed it down and raised their d—l—h palmetto, then opened upon us with a volley of grape which killed about 200 of the Michigan First Regiment and then run into the woods. They took every way to whip us, but we killed more of there men, yes 3 times as many. They tried to surround us, but did not succeed. They made an atact on us as we returned. In those long woods they had a company of 400 black horses; it is called the black horse cavalry; we killed a good part of them, and the rest was glad to retreat and leave us. I wish you had been there to have picked up some of the swords and revolvers and rifuls. I picked up as many as I could carry, but we had to cross over a bridge, and there they had some cannon that was worked by the infernal black Nigars, and weakened the bridge, and it broke down with us and we lost our cannon in the stream, and I was forsed to drop my load of stuff. They killed about 500 men in all. To the bridge we lost our tents and every thing we had onley what we had on our back, and we marched all that night and the next day till noon. It commenced to rain the next morning, and we were as wet as a drouned rat; our feet was a soiled blister and we was so lame and tiard that I could lain down by the road-side and died with the greatest pleasure. – We all went to Alexandria. We got together and went down to Bush Hill last night, about four miles from Alexandria, to camp and recruit for another fight, which will be before long. We have been for the last 2 weeks where money was of no use; we shot hogs and cows and hens and every thing we could get, and stuck it on a stick, and roasted it and eat it without eny salt or eny bread, but we are in hopes of better times now, and I hope we shall have better times. I never saw hard times before, and I hope I never shall again, but I never will run away. I will fight as long as I can.

I wish you could see some of the women here; they are very poor and lean, with ragged clothes, and have no hoops on – nothing but a shirt and an old nasty torne dress, with four or five nasty young ones hanging on to her. Se puts me in mind of an old setting turkey that has sot about eight weeks on rotten eggs – and they cannot read or write; live in the woods in little old log house, and thier men hunt and fish and gamble and drink champaigne and whiskey; some are married and some are not married. I did not see any stoves; all of them has an old-fashioned fire-plase. The hogs run wild here. The water is very poor. You do not know how the country is covered with woods; it is a k—d wild barberaus place; the timber is mostly oak, white. How many is killed from our Regiment I do not know; four from our company. It is agoing to be an awful hard job to whip them, if we ever do. Give my best respects to all my acquaintances.

In haste, yours truly.

Vermont Watchman, 8/23/1861

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2nd Vermont Infantry Roster 





Cpl. Guilford Wiley Wells, 27th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

24 06 2020

Another Letter from the 27th.
—————

The following letter descriptive of the Battle of Bull Run and incidents pertaining thereto is from a member of the Lima company, in the 27th regiment. We have already published a number of letters from members of that regiment who took an active part in the bloody work, but we venture to five one more.

Camp Anderson,
Washington, July 2[?], 1861.

Dear Father, Mother, Brother and Sister: I now take my pencil to write you, that your uneasiness in reference to me may be quieted, as you no doubt ere this have heard that our regiment was all cut to pieces in the Battle at Bull Run, and probably think that I was either killed or wounded. But I am not, though I am all fagged out, as I was on the march and in the battle from 2 o’clock Sunday morning until 7 o’clock Monday night, and not having anything to eat except four or five crackers in the forenoon of Sunday.

As I suppose you and my friends of Conesus are anxious to hear, I will give you a short description, as I saw it, and I was in it from beginning to the end. Our regiment was the first which charged on the enemy, notwithstanding the papers said it was another regiment, which the Washington papers corrected this morning.

I will give you the details of the battle. We marched in the morning for Bull Run, which was about ten miles from where we were encamped. We passed around the enemy’s batteries and succeeded in outflanking them, and arrived on the ground at 11 o’clock. On our march we did not find but one drop of water, and then it was dirty water – so dirty that it was not fit to drink even by a beast, but as our canteens were empty we filled them. When we reached Bull Run we did not have time to get water or anything to eat. We then marched down to the woods, where the enemy were all alone, but when we arrived at the woods we saw a regiment who swung their handkerchiefs and showed our colors, and we supposed them to be our friends, but our suppositions were all false, for when we reached the end of their line and they were about twenty rods from us, they flanked us and fired, which of course surprised us, but we returned the fire and charged upon them, and drove them into the woods. Our loss was very great. They killed or wounded over half at the first fire. We rallied around our colors, and were ordered to retreat. As the batteries opened fire upon us with large cannon and shell, we fell down flat, loaded, then charged upon them again, when another regiment entered the field to our aid. Then followed the whole force. We then drove them out of the woods on the hill beyond. Then commenced one of the hardest fought battles, I think, ever fought on this continent. First one retired, then the other, but still we drove them. At the same time the groans of the wounded and dying were singularly blended with the roaring of cannon and the rattle of musketry. Oh, such a sight I never want to see again. You can have some idea of it if for once you will imagine the people of Conesus all together, and all wailing and groaning, and each covered with blood, while the people of Livonia were there, and there lying dead. This would be something like the sight which I gazed upon Sunday.

O, mother, you never saw suffering like that which is exhibited on the battle field I saw one man who had five balls put through him, and yet was alive, but there was no doctor to dress his wounds, and he walked [?] miles and fell down exhausted and died. I saw many upon our retreat who could not have walked had it not been that the enemy were following them with the intention of taking all prisoners that they could reach. This served to inspire them with energy sufficient to keep on the march until from utter exhaustion they dropped down.

But I am wandering from my story. We fought for [?] hours. Some of the time we thought victory was just coming, but at that time a new battery would open on us. We would then work to silence it, and then another would open, and in that way we fought until our ammunition gave out, and we found the enemy had plenty left, and were using it to the very best advantage. We then were ordered to rally once more around our flag, but the regiments were too much broken, yet they succeeded in rallying about 1,000, but the Black Horse Cavalry made a charge on us and we were obliged to leave on a run. We left many valuable things on the ground. I for one left may coat and haversack with all I had to eat. As we left, we overtook the Rhode Island Regiment with their cannons, and as most of the horses were shot, they were obliged to cut the [?] and leave the pieces on the ground for the enemy. We left scattered all over the ground, with men running in every direction. We left at the hospital all out wounded, and we did not have wagons enough to draw them. The doctor remained until the commenced to throw shell upon the hospital, something which was never known before. As the building caught fire the doctor took his horse and cut through the cavalry. They then made a charge upon the hospital killing all who were so unfortunate as to be wounded in it. We had a number of our company – three or four – from East Bloomfield, one from Honeoye Falls, two from Lima, and the 1st Corporal. How many more we can’t say, as we know of many who are missing, but do not know whether they were killed or wounded. We did not succeed in getting a wounded man away or burying those who were killed. They used us worse than ever man was used by Indians, as they skulked behind trees, fences, and whenever we left a wounded man on the field, they rushed out and cut his throat.

But again, after we arrived on top of the hill, we marched to a house. Upon arriving on the other side, the first thing we knew, they commenced throwing shell at us. They fell among us like hail, without much harm. I found I could not go much further. A wagon came along and I put everything – gun and accoutrements – in it and left as fast as I could, which was not very fast, being without anything to east from 2 o’clock in the morning – without rest, and running most of the way. We found two regiments at Centreville, but they were so close upon us we were obliged to leave en masse.

The drivers commenced to run their horses – flipping over and breaking the wagons. Our loss of wagons must have been 30 or 40 left filled, [?] a [? ?] which they took from us. As I passed along the road I found many who wished me to give them something to eat, saying that they had had nothing for 24 hours. As I was in the same fix I could not administer to their wants. I had nothing to eat until a black woman gave me a small piece of biscuit, which tasted as good as anything I had ever had. I arrived at Washington Monday night at 7 o’clock in the rain, wet through and cold as I could well be. I went into Willard’s Hotel and they gave me something to eat, and I found a fire to dry myself. I then went to my barracks, found a hard board to lie on, which seemed much better than the cold ground. I am well now. A lady here gave me plenty to eat and some salt and water to wash my feet in, as they were very much swollen. She seemed to take as much interest in me as though I were her own boy. She came up this morning and took me down to her house for breakfast. I write this on a board on the ground. I will try and write a more [?] letter next time.

G. Wiley Wells

Rochester (NY) Union Advertiser, 7/31/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

27th New York Infantry roster 

Guilford Wiley Wells at Wikipedia

Guilford Wiley Wells Ancestry 

Guilford Wiley Wells at Fold3 

Guilford Wiley Wells at FindAGrave





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

23 06 2020

FROM A PRIVATE OF THE LIMA COMPANY, 27TH REGIMENT, TO HIS FATHER, G. W. COPELAND, OF CLARENDON, N. Y.

Washington, July 24, 1861.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. A. Copeland

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

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

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

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Contributed by John Hennessy

27th New York Infantry roster 

John Alden Copeland at Ancestry 

John Alden Copeland at Fold3 

John Alden Copeland at FindAGrave





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

16 06 2020

Camp Porter, Arlington Heights,
July 23, 1861.

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

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

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

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Clear Copy at Newspapers.com 

Contributed by John Hennessy

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

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

Richard F. Cole at Ancestry.com 

Richard F. Cole at Fold3 





A. [?.] C., Co. A, 13th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

15 06 2020

Fort Bennett, Va. July 22, 1861.

Friend C. – Yesterday (Sunday) was a day that will long be remembered. At 2 o’clock we were called up by the bugle notes of our brigade, to march. About 7 o’clock Sherman’s battery and a thirty two pounder opened fire upon the rebels, who were first found sneaking in and around the woods, near where we were formed in battle order. A few men of the 13th were permitted to get water, and while filling their canteens were fired upon by the enemy, but none of them were hurt. Almost immediately, the first division of the 13th (Capt. Putnam’s and Smith’s Companies*) were ordered on to the hill as scouts, and quite a number of shots were exchanged. Presently, a large number of rebels were seen flying over the hills in all directions – a few shells from our battery helping them along. S. P. Allen was with us, busily engaged with the glass, giving decisive information, and discovered a large body of troops advancing, who were supposed to be Col. Hunter’s column, who shortly engaged the rebels with a very warm and destructive fire.

The 69th, 13th, 79th and 2d Wisconsin, were then ordered to the scene of action – about two miles to the left of us. On went these four regiments. The 13th stripped off all their blankets, &c, and marched on [?] double quick, through the woods and fields of grain, till we came to the stream called Bull’s Run – a nasty, filthy creek at the foot of a very steep and rocky hill, about 95 feet wide and 3 feet deep. Here the 69th were detained somewhat, notwithstanding the exhortations of officers to dash through it. The 13th went through it with a hop, skip and jump movement. Here came the cry that the rebels were running! On, on went our men, with the Stars and Stripes over our heads. Arriving upon the hill, the 69th opened a tremendous fire upon the enemy, as they were flying in all directions, and the 13th did great execution with their rifles. The enemy, of course, took to the woods where their damnable masked batteries were.

Our forces were immediately drawn up in order, and marched up to the work like veterans, under a tremendous cross-fire from the enemy’s batteries, grape, balls, canisters and shell falling like hail stones among us; but down the hill we advanced – double quick – and drove them off into the woods again. The enemy then rallied with renewed vigor, and succeeded in scattering our forces terribly. Just then the 13th advanced, and held the hill against a tremendous fire, for some time. Thank God we were the very last to leave, retreating gradually – after being ordered the second time – loading and firing as we did so. At this point the 13th suffered considerable loss. Our officers – God bless them – were true and brave.

The whole of our army was finally driven off, completely routed and broken up, amid the greatest confusion; and was followed as far back as Centerville, and I don’t know but further. – Just before we reached Centerville, the enemy opened one of their masked batteries upon the wounded, who were being conveyed in carriages to the Centerville hospital. Here one of the most wicked and heart-rending scenes took place, I think, that was ever known. No living man can describe it. We had no cannon to return the fire, and our rifles and muskets were of no use. The only thing we could do was to run. – The horses attached to the wagons, which were loaded with wounded, became frightened, and ran like so many deer through the woods, smashing the carriages, and dashing the wounded against the stones, stumps and trees. Oh, how the heart cried for revenge.

After getting out of the woods, and into another road, I found a small flag, which I seized, and gaining a position on an open hill, (supposing the enemy were following us,) I called out aloud to the soldiers to stand, and fight till the last breath of life was gone, rather than out wounded should be butchered by such devils. – They rallied! Yes, they stood, and we got about one hundred and fifty men together, and with our little flag we marched on till we found we were safe, and then we parted, each to find his own regiment.

Chas. C. Buckley, of Company A, who had been my right hand man ever since the company was organized, was wounded. He was shot twice – in the neck and arm – at the time the 13th advanced up the hill, where the enemy’s fire was so severe. His friends got him a horse, upon which he was conveyed, under a guard, to the Centreville Hospital. His wounds were dressed, and he is not considered dangerously wounded.

There are a great many of the 13th missing, but I don’t think there are many killed, compared to some other regiments. In Company A, I think none were killed. After leaving the battle field, I saw only a few of the 13th, as they, like all the rest, were scattered along the roads during the entire retreat back to Washington, which was ordered, as an attack upon the Capital was anticipated by the Generals in command.

This was a hard day’s work, I assure you; but there was no grumbling. We were obliged to march all night, arriving in camp about 7 or 8 o’clock the next morning, and immediately packed up our traps and started for Fort Bennett, which lies just back of Georgetown, and a little to the left of Fort Corcoran. It is the same that the 13th worked upon.

The 13th lost none of its officers, that I know of. As regards myself, I am all right, only a little sore and stiff. There were a great many officers of different companies, killed – the work of the enemy’s sharpshooters.

There are various reports in circulation – Some say that Mr. Allen was killed, but it is not generally believed.

A. [?.] C. **

Rochester (NY) Democrat and American, 7/27/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

* Companies A and F

** Possibly Albert G. Cooper of Company A (the only A. C. found in the roster). The letter writer is assumed a member of Company A due to the mention of Chas. Buckley of that company.

13th New York Infantry roster https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/rosters/Infantry/13th_Infantry_CW_Roster.pdf





Hospital Steward Daniel W. Bosley, Co. E, 27th New York Infantry, On the Battle

12 06 2020

From the Twenty-Seventh.
———-

Mr. Daniel W. Bosley, of the 27th Regiment, Company E, who was employed assisting the Surgeons during the engagement between Bull’s Run and Manassas, writes to a friend as follows:

Washington, July 25th, 1861.

I received your welcome letter on Tuesday, the second day after the battle of Bull’s Run, which, I suppose, you have already heard of. – Sunday and Monday were two of the hardest days I ever experienced. We left our camp at 4 o’clock, Sunday morning, and marched fourteen miles to the battle ground. I did not have to fight. I remained in the back ground with the Doctor. The enemy was situated on a hill, behind masked batteries. Our troops took position on another hill, with a fine valley between them, the batteries playing from each hill. The federal troops behaved nobly; but for want of proper officers, (not outs,) ammunition, and besides that the boys were so tired that they could hardly walk, they were compelled to retreat. The battle lasted from 12 till 4 o’clock, when we retreated from the field, and marched to Washington, a distance of 40 miles. We carried some provisions with us, but the men threw all encumbrances away as they went into battle; therefore we had to march from Sunday morning to Monday morning, without resting over five minutes at a time, and without any sleep or anything to eat, going nearly sixty miles, and drank water that you would not wash your hands in.

I felt very stiff for one or two days afterwards, but now I feel first rate, and am anxious to go back, for the rest of the boys are willing to go. We will clean them out yet.

Only four of Wanzer’s company are missing; John Clague – Instantly killed. W. H. Merrill – wounded. Taken to the hospital, and the hospital was afterward burned by the rebels – Hamlin – foot shot off. Left to the tender mercies of the foe, and McGettrick – “sun struck.” I helped him a mile, when the cavalry charged on us, and I had to leave him.

I had to dodge cannon balls right and left, when from curiosity I ventured too near the fight. I captured a “secesh musket,” and the other boys took some swords, muskets and revolvers.

From your affectionate friend,
Daniel W. Bosley.

Rochester (NY) Democrat and American, 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

27th New York Infantry roster 

Daniel W. Bosley at Ancestry.com 

Daniel W. Bosley at Fold3 

Daniel W. Bosley at FindAGrave 





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

10 06 2020

[Letter from a son to his parents.]

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

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

G. H. Price*,

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

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

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Also on web 

Contributed by John Hennessy

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

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

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





Pvt. Joseph Sands, Co. A, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle

9 06 2020

Arlington Heights, July 23.

I write you these few lines to let you know that I am safe, but scarcely able to stir from the effects of our marching and our exertions in the battle. Pretty much all of our men are in the same condition. That is, all that is left of us. I am very sorry to tell you we lost the battle, but I hope you and your friends won’t blame us, for God knows that we did our best to win, and particularly the New York troops; they fought manfully; and Brooklyn need not be ashamed of the 14th Regiment, for they did what no others dare do. It was when the Fire Zouaves were in the advance and laying for the rascals to come out, that we charged right upon the battery – in the very cannon’s mouth – and gave them volley after volley, and all of a sudden they opened their guns upon us, and plowed us down with grape and canister. Not only this but their cavalry charged upon us, when we were compelled to retreat. As we were retreating I saw my compatriots fall thick and fast around me, but I hadn’t any chance to help the wounded on the gory field. As we were going over, one of the Generals stepped up and said, “14th are you tired?” We told him no. Said he, “you have done your part.” He shouts out for the other troops to rally. For our part we could not rally without support, and all our officers were shot. We stood firm, and we saw even the regulars retreating. The general shouts out “Give one more rally.” They would not. Said he [illegible] musket, and shot him off his horse. As soon as he fell one of the Fire Zouaves jumped on the horse and galloped away; when, all of a sudden, the fellows turned and fled as fast as they could go. This, you may think, is flattery, but it is not, it is a correct statement as far as I can remember. They have taken an immense number of prisoners, and the wounded they kill, as far as I can understand. They have 150,000 men stationed there. There was 90,000 men there first, and reinforcements coming in all the time, and if we had staid much longer they would most likely have surrounded us and taken us all prisoners. We lost our Colonel and a good many of our officers; our regiment is pretty well cut up. They are talking of sending us home to recruit again. They are going to give us new uniforms, for we are in need of them; mine was bad enough before the battle, but after the battle I notice they were pretty well riddled up. The bayonet belonging to my musket was knocked clean off with a shot.

Joseph Sands, Co. A, 14th Regt.

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

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Contributed by John Hennessy

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

Joseph Sands at Ancestry.com 

Joseph Sands at Fold3 

Joseph Sands at FindAGrave 





2nd Lieut. Charles E. Palmer, Co. F, 2nd Connecticut Infantry, On the Advance and Blackburn’s Ford

2 06 2020

OUR CORRESPONDENCE.
—————
From the Volunteers.
—————

Centreville, Va., near
Manassas Junction, July 19, 1861.

“Forward to Richmond!” seems at last to be the motto of Gen. Scott, and the movement has commenced. I wrote you a few weeks ago that the only sight we should get of the enemy at Fairfax, would be their coat-tails. Those who were fortunate enough to be in front of the line with telescopes, did, I believe, have that privilege, but the main column marched on in utter ignorance of that fact. But here we are, within seven miles of the far-famed Manassas Gap Junction, and two from the main body of the enemy at Bull’s Creek, who are strongly entrenched in a position which they evidently intended should become a second Thermopylae.

But to commence at the beginning. On Monday night last, at our evening parade, the order was given for each company to put three days’ rations in their haversacks, roll their blankets, and be ready to march at 3, P. M., next day. For once there was n countermand, and at the appointed time the Second Connecticut filed out into the road. The First fell into their rear, and in a few moments we were on the march toward Vienna, at the head of a division of ten thousand men. We went on without reconnoitering some two or three miles, when the Connecticut Brigade threw themselves off to the right and left as skirmishers, and we dashed on through the bushes and fields, without interruption till evening, when the column halted at Vienna, and we bivouacked for the night. Augmented during the night to twenty thousand, about sunrise we moved toward Fairfax. We took our position no the right as skirmishers, and for the first time evidences of the recent occupation by the enemy met our eyes. Temporary booths for pickets, haversacks and canteens, were occasionally found, while now and then the road was obstructed by fallen trees and other articles to impede our progress. By and by, a shout was occasionally heard along the line of our skirmishers, as they blazed away at some flying picket, and now and then a prisoner was carried back to the main body. These incidents grew more frequent, till a halt was sounded, just as the head of the column arrived at the top of a hill, commanding at a distance of a few miles, a view of Fairfax Courthouse. A battery of artillery was sent to the front, and we cautiously advanced till within about a mile, when our brigade was drawn up in line of battle, the cannon posted near a school-house on a little elevation , and a shell or two thrown over into the midst of the enemy. Then commenced a stampede. Baggage wagons could be seen moving rapidly forward, and the glitter of the arms of the enemy as they moved at a double quick out on the road toward Manassas Gao, showed that our first fight was not to be at Fairfax. Our column then obliqued to the right down the Germantown road, where the enemy were said to have entrenchments, and were determined to make a stand. But here again we were disappointed. After carefully feeling our way a few hundred yards, their pickets again came in sight, running in such haste as to leave their blankets, and in some cases their uncooked breakfasts on the fires at their posts. We passed several places where there had been masked batteries, and on emerging from a piece of woods, saw before us a long line of breastworks, in the rear of which was located a secession camp. There was no evidence of life around it except the flying pickets, who could still be seen at a distance, making off. – But understanding their ways, and not being inclined to fall into any trap by advancing our forces and suddenly finding a dozen cannon blazing at us, the skirmishers were ordered by Col. Keyes to halt till the artillery came up, who fired a couple of shots into it. This effected nothing, and a few men advanced cautiously and looked over, and soon our whole line was again in motion. There were evidences of a force having been at work during the morning at this entrenchment, which they had left in such haste as to leave their shovels, picks, and all their tools behind them. On advancing to their camp, we found camp equipage in such abundance that picking it up was out of the question with our limited supply of baggage wagons, and it was stored away to be taken care of at some future time. We pushed on to Germantown, (two houses, one pig-sty, and a pump.) planted the Stars and Stripes on a flag-staff, where once had floated the stars and bars; captured a baggage wagon full of army stores, with two horses attached; found lots of blankets, knapsacks, haversacks and canteens, which had been thrown away by the over-burdened John Gilpins. We halted at night at a point some ten miles from our position in the morning. The next day we moved on to our present position, where we arrived about 10 o’clock, A. M. The Connecticut regiments were relieved from skirmishing duty today, by the 2d Michigan and 12th New York, and we took a position near the center of the column. Scarcely had we came to a halt, when a report of artillery at the head of Col. Heintzelman’s division, which had been moving parallel with ours on a road about a mile to our left, showed us that we had engaged the enemy. This report was followed by another and another, till word was sent back along the line that the head of both columns had come up – to a strong position of the rebels at Bull’s Creek, and were now having a desperate conflict. Our brigade was filed into the woods as a reserve, and the rest of the division push-on to the scene. For three or four hours the booming of cannon was incessant, and we lay on our arms in line, expecting to be called on to march at any time, reports meanwhile coming back to us of the progress of the battle. Sometimes these were encouraging, but enough was learned to leave no doubt that the loss on our side was fearful, and that the enemy had not been dislodged from their position. The firing at length gradually ceased, and we were told that neither side had gained any advantage, but that both had lost a great number of men.

THURSDAY’S SKIRMISH AT BULL’S RUN.

The skirmishers at the head of our division were pushing into the woods – a dense pine growth – when they discovered a battery and retreated to rally on the reserve. For some reason this reserve was nearer than usual, and by the time they had reached it, were just pushing into the same place. At this moment the battery opened on them, throwing shell and shot with great execution. Our men retreated with as much regularity as possible, but another volley took effect, and made many a poor fellow bite the dust ere they were out of reach. Sherman’s battery of rifled cannon was then brought up and opened a fire of shell and canister into the place where the battery was located. No answer was returned, and a cloud of dust being seen rising in the rear, it was supposed by Gen. Tyler that the enemy had retreated, and he ordered the 2d Massachusetts to charge into the same place. They advanced, and the conflict commenced. The life-long hatred between these two States now had an opportunity of venting itself, and both sides seemed to feel that in them lay the issue. – South Carolina had the advantage, however, and Massachusetts was obliged to retreat, but only after repeated volleys from the battery. – The humanity of our enemy was shown by a Carolinian rushing out from his cover with fixed bayonet, and pinning a wounded man to the earth, who was attempting to crawl away. A lieutenant was seen to swing his sword and exclaim – “That’s it; kill every one of the d—-d Yankees!” Those were his last words, – the next moment he threw up his arms and fell a corpse.

The position of the enemy was such that but two regiments could be engaged at a time, and as it was deemed useless to throw more lives away, Gen. Tyler withdrew his forces to the woods and the firing on both sides ceased. The enemy attempted to cross a creek near by, but were driven back at the point of the bayonet by the New York 69th.

OUR LOSS.

I have made careful inquiry – not from officers who would have a motive in concealing the true number – but from sergeants and privates in the regiments engaged, who have the knowledge from the roll call of their different corps, and find the loss on our side to be from forty to forty-five killed, and about twice that number wounded. The regiments that suffered the most were the New York 12th, Massachusetts 2d, and Michigan 2d. Two were killed from Sherman’s battery. As the firing was mostly shell and grape, the proportion of the wounded was less than usual in engagements.

Heavy artillery seems to be what is wanted to dislodge the enemy from their position, and yesterday there arrived two large siege pieces – one a 64 pounder, drawn by fifteen horses – the other a 26, with bombs and tar-balls, the latter being intended to burn the rebels out from their present retreat. The attack cannot be postponed more than a day or two at most, and I have not much doubt they will be driven back to Manassas. It will be necessary to wait a few days, when they will be obliged from necessity, to fall further back, as the only water they have is obtained from their present position. Their force is reported as amounting to 40,000, and there may be a Water-loo here before the affair is ended.

Our present position is on the brow of a hill, where Beauregard evidently intended at one time to make a stand, as there is an earthwork here, pierced for several guns, which commands the main approach for two r three miles, and which could not be easily flanked. This is a splendid position for defense, and their deserting it for another is good evidence that they will not be easily dislodged.

Centreville is an old Virginia country town, – a place of some importance in the days of stage-coaches and toll-gates, but now run to dilapidation. I do not see a building which appears to have been built since the Revolution, and none have been repaired since their erection. Most of them have been deserted by their owners, and are now used for hospitals for our wounded.

At the old camp of the enemy here, there were many articles left which were siezed upon by our men as relics. I have been favored by the sight of several letters which were picked up. The following shows that they are not above the wants of us poor mortals in the Federal ranks: Sister Maria to her “Dear Chet,” invokes Heaven’s curses on those awful Yankees, and then says that she thinks it a shame that President Davis does not give them better food.

Here is a letter entire:

Centreville, Va., July 3d, 1861.

Dear Father – Send me at once a gallon of best whiskey. I have not time to write more.

Yours truly, —- —-.

Another from a lady to her brother requests him to “bring her home a Yankee captain so she can see what he looks like.” All either begin or end with curses on the Yankee Abolitionists. An order was found from the Adjutant General commanding every male citizen capable of bearing arms to report himself to General Beauregard, with such weapons as he could procure, within a week from July 11th. Their case is a desperate one.

The time of the First Connecticut Regiment expired to-day. They were called together this morning to see how many were willing to remain a few days to see the issue of the present operations. About fifty of the regiment were willing to stay, and they go home in a day or two. I understand that several regiments will follow them in a few days. Our (2d regt.) is out the 5th of August, and by that time I trust the immediate need for our presence will be through. We are now cooking three days’ rations, and are ordered to be ready to move by 5 o’clock this afternoon.

C. E. P.

Winsted (CT) Herald, 7/26/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

For the identity of C. E. P. see this post.

2nd Connecticut Infantry Roster

Charles E. Palmer at Ancestry.com

Charles E. Palmer at Fold3

Charles E. Palmer at Find-a-Grave





Surgeon Norman S. Barnes, 27th New York Infantry, On the Retreat

28 05 2020

War Correspondence
—————

[Our special dispatches of yesterday, 4 P. M., announced that Norman S. Barnes, of this city, Surgeon of the 27th regiment, was among the “wounded and missing.” At a later hour the following communication was received by Mrs. Barnes, from which we are permitted to make the following extracts. It will be seen that Surgeon B., although wounded, effected his escape, and is now in safety.]

Extracts from a Private Letter from Surgeon Barnes of 27th Regiment.

Camp Anderson
Washington, July 23d, 1861.

I am only slightly wounded, not so bad that I can sit up and attend to or superintend the care of the wounded.

Indeed, we have had a most terrific battle; the details of it you will get in the papers. The N. Y. Times’ reporter was near the scene of action, and retreated with us. Their papers will be a more reliable one on that account.

It was impossible to keep out of the way of danger. Cannon balls, grape, cannister and musket balls flew thick and fast about us; men and horses were killed all around me.

One horse was killed under me; I lost my coat, belt, sash, sword, &c; all my instruments and medicines. I amputated twenty five limbs. But the poor fellows were afterwards shoot, or bayoneted, or had their throats cut. ‘Twas a sorry sight.

As soon as I found that no respect was to be paid to Surgeons or to their wounded, I made up my mind to take care of myself. Up to this time I had not fired a shot; m revolver now did its duty. After that I took from a rebel soldier, somewhat against his will, a minie rifle – this served me better.

As I now had become a fighting man, I was compelled to join the ”rear guard” of the now rapidly retiring army. My horse Prince, that had been careering over the battle field on his own account, having broken away from the man in whose charge I left him, was no where to be seen; and with balls flying thick around me, and the rebels at our heels, I thought that on your account as well as my own, I’d take to the woods. Fourteen miles we – tired, hungry and thirsty fellows, fifteen or twenty thousand – pushed our way through the woods on foot.

We had not ne mouthful to eat or drink, except from mud-puddles. About fourteen miles from the battle-filed, my horse came along on a full run, with two men on him, fleeing for dear life. They dismounted, and I had it somewhat easier, but with a tired horse, bleeding at his sides, covered with foam and almost exhausted. After getting on him, and proceeding four or five miles, we were charged in the rear, where I still was, by a numerous body of the rebels, a large number on horse, and also by their flying artillery. About three hundred were killed, as nearly as we can calculate, from recent inspection.

A bridge which was just before us was blown to pieces, while I was fording the stream. Dr. Morse kept close to my side, and how we were saved I do not know, except it be through God. One thing, I do not remember that I once felt the least frightened, but made my calculations without confusion.

We left out camp, about forty miles from Washington, at 2 o’clock Sunday morning; overtook the enemy, strongly entrenched, about 18 miles distant; commenced action at 1:00; and after six hours hard fighting against more than twice our number; retreated to Washington, 58 miles. During all this time our men had been without food. We reached here yesterday morning at 8 o’clock. Since then a few stragglers have come in.

I’ve written in haste, surrounded by wounded soldiers, and giving directions to my assistants, unless in some important cases.

N. S. B.

Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 7/27/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

27th New York Infantry Roster 

Norman S. Barnes at Ancestry.com 

Norman S. Barnes at Fold3 

Norman S. Barnes at FindAGrave