William Augustus Croffut, On Sudley Church Hospital During the Battle

24 11 2012

Mr. W. A. Croffut, communicates to the National Republican of the 26th the following graphic description of scenes at the hospital:

I was on the field of battle at Bull Run on Sunday, and am sufficiently recovered from the complete prostration which followed my march of sixty miles – from Vienna to battle and back to Washington – to be able to give a brief account of what I saw. I was but a civilian; my chief occupation was to help carry off the wounded, and minister, as far as possible, to their comfort.

I assisted to bear several to the hospital at the corner of the woods – near the battle field – perhaps 150 rods from the enemy’s batteries. Such a scene of death and desolation! Men, dying and dead, covered the floor and filled the yard with frightful misery. Civilians and soldiers turned surgeons, and amputated and bound up the wounds of the injured and dying. A shell from the enemy struck harmlessly near the front yard, and cannon balls flew over and around, with their prolonged “whish!” as if the sacred white flag above our heads, honored by all the people besides, was a special target for the hateful and insolent “Confederacy.” I learn that this hospital was burned soon after, with all is suffering inmates by the heartless and diabolical foe.

Soon after, a man was brought along on his way to the other hospital, and I assisted in carrying him thither. It was somewhat farther off, on the road of approach, and was extemporized from a church which we had passed just before reaching the battle-field. It was a scene too frightful and sickening to witness, much more describe. There were in it, scattered thickly on the floor and in the galleries, sixty or seventy, wounded in every possible way – arms and legs shot off, some dead, and scores gasping for water and aid. The pulpit was appropriated for a surgeon’s room, and the communion table of pious anarchy became an amputation table, baptized in willing blood, and consecrated to the holy uses of Liberty and Law! The road and woods, on either side and all around, are strewn with maimed and mutilated heroes, and the balls from the rifled cannon go over us like winged devils. There sits a colonel, with his arm bound up, asking to be put on his horse and led back to his regiment; here lies a captain with a grape shot through his head, and blood and brains oozing out as we touch him tenderly to see if he his dead; and yonder comes in a pale chaplain, cut by a canister, while, sword in hand, he led his brave little parish, in the name of Almighty God, to the fight. And again we enter the hospital with him. Oh, God! What a hideous sight! Step into this gory tabernacle. You may grow pallid and faint, and some even of the strong-hearted do, or you may find yourself cool and self commanding, as I do, against my own anticipations, amid such sights and scenes. I have known men who could walk up to a flashing wall of bayonets unblanched, who would faint at the sight of suffering. Look around you here. The grim chambers, where the deity of a strange despotism was worshipped, is turned into an altar of Freedom, and sanctified anew by the warm life of heroes. Fit choir, that in the galleries – the intermittent yells of the dying and the subdued groans of brave men! Eloquent preacher, in that pulpit so long defiled! Glorious burden on that sacramental tablet, splendid wine there flowing – where Christ has been so often crucified. Precious and acceptable Eucharist! And these are the services to day, in this chapel of paganism, once dedicated, with lying lips, to God. The house what Baal built rises over a holocaust of heroes. And this is the holy Sabbath day – the world’s White Day, so long kept as a blessed symbol of fidelity, purity, humanity, liberty, and peace!

That ghastly picture of carnage will be ever present before my eyes, and those half smothered sobs and groans, will always ring their dreadful chorus in my ears.

And now on, and on past us fly the panic-stricken troops. We are not beaten, but these think we are, which is just as bad for our cause to night. Good generalship and guarded baggage wagons would have saved us, we of the unmilitary corps think, but it is too late now. And so the whole nation is to suffer then, for the dark crimes of years – the South for its terrible guilt of commission, and the North for its moral debauchery which has betrayed it to such fearful complicity. Had we remembered the Divine decree “though hand joined in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished.”

May God purify the religion, and warm the heart, and quicken the conscience, and open the eyes of the nation! May we learn now the lesson which a few brave souls of the North have striven long to teach, and speedily wash our bloody hands and begin to do the righteous thing!

W. A. Croffut.

St. Paul Press, 8/2/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Lieutenant Lucius L. Bolles, Co. A, 3rd Connecticut Volunteers, On the Battle

3 11 2012

From the Third Regiment

[Extract from a private letter from Lieut. Bolles, of Capt. Lewis’ Company, 3d Regiment, dated Washington, July 23d.]

I arrived here last evening with three rebel prisoners – a lieutenant and two privates. Our men stood up to the fight nobly. We were several hours in front of one of the masked batteries, and were constantly trying to take advantage of any weak point which might present itself to us. Gen Johnston, (rebel), sent forward 15,000 rebel troops against us, when the 71st and 72d New York fell back, (after we had really won the day), and the result was a perfect stampede among our troops. Officers deserted their regiments, men were running all sorts of ways fleeing from the enemy; but after all the fear and cowardice that was shown by the officers and men, our loss in killed and wounded did not exceed 500, while that of the rebels (so Gen. Mansfield informs me), exceeds 5,000.

The Connecticut troops came off the field together, excepting Capt. Lewis’ Company, who were detailed to serve as rear-guard to the baggage train, which owing to the stampede was on the extreme left of the line; that was twice attacked by cavalry, but we succeeded in keeping them off until the rebels opened a fire from their flying artillery of shot, shell, and grape, that of course with only 55 men we could not contend with, and our Captain received orders to retreat, which we did in good order. Our company have only lost two men. We arrived at our camp at Falls Church at 4 A. M. Monday. We arrived foot-sore and completely worn out, having been up two nights with one day’s hard fighting. This company stood up nobly before a brisk fire of shot and shell from masked batteries. Shot and Shell flew thick about us, but their aim was too high, and they passed over us. Captain Lewis proved himself a true soldier, and Lieut. Brenner stood by him nobly.

Mr. McKay, Gen. Mansfield’s aid, informs me that a box came directed to him Tuesday morning, which he opened and found to contain the head of our men who had died or been murdered on the field of battle. Our boys will pay them for such treatment. Wounded men were murdered. I saw two on the field belonging to the Maine 2d who had been wounded by balls from musketry, and afterwards bayoneted. We will return this outrage by giving them a thrashing.

Hartford Daily Courant, 7/26/1861

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Lucius Bolles at Ancestry.com

Contributed by John Hennessy

Unknown Captain, 2nd New York State Militia, On the March to Manassas, the Battle, and the Retreat

2 10 2012

A Soldier’s Letter.


Description of the Battle by a Captain of the Second Regiment of New York.


The following letter from a captain in the Second regiment of this city gives a vivid description of the battle at Bull Run, and the real nature of the panic:

Camp Powell,

Headquarters Second Regt. N. Y. S. M.,

Washington, D. C., July [?], 1861

Dear —-:  Your favor of the 2[?]th instant, as well as the previous one, were duly received; circumstances, as you are no doubt aware, prevented an answer to the first.

On Monday, the 15th instant, we received orders to be ready with three days, rations, and without knapsacks, carrying blankets only, to move in advance at five P. M. the next evening. At the appointed hour the line was in motion, and soon after reached the Ohio volunteers’ camp, who fell in our rear, giving New York the honor of the advance. We then moved off for Vienna, having been in the meantime joined by the Connecticut Brigade, which completed our division (Tyler’s).

The enemy’s pickets and advance guard rapidly fell back upon our approach, and after passing Fall’s Church pressed on Fairfax at an early hour in the morning, and, being on the left of the division, we deployed towards Germantown, while the right entered Fairfax. After a short rest the right joined us, and we marched on in column and entered Germantown, the enemy being in sight and hastily running out of reach of our guns. At this point we were informed that the enemy, to the number of fifteen thousand, were on the retreat and only one and a-half hours ahead of our advance. Our scouts having brought us this information, the news having been confirmed by Lieutenant Tompkins of the dragoons, we again took up the line of march, the heat being dreadful, and the men suffering terribly. After marching until late afternoon, the men being fairly exhausted, our advance suddenly came on the enemy’s camp, and easily pounced on the few remaining secessionists, as well as considerable of their rations, which were left behind in their hasty flight; in fact some of our mean found a watch or two, besides epaulettes, as well as any quantities of correspondence, in which the fair southern damsels begged their lovers to get pieces of a “Yankee’s hide” for them, etc., and on other themes too numerous to mention. The men being exhausted and night approaching, as well as the road barricaded by fallen trees, we halted, threw out our pickets and camp guard, and after hastily disposing of an insufficient meal, (being the first since morning,) we wrapped ourselves in our blankets, and with no other covering save the trees, were soon sound asleep. During the night we had several alarms, on account of the enemy’s cavalry trying to pass our pickets, in which efforts they suffered severely. At an early hour in the morning (Thursday 17th,) line was again formed, and the whole army of the Potomac moved on our right, in the centre and in the advance.

Centreville was soon after reached; line of battle being formed, and the scouts sent out. They soon after arrived with the intelligence that the enemy had again fallen back from their intrenchments, and at this stage I must say that I never saw a better place to make a stand, as the hill commanded all the approaches for over two miles around; however, subsequent occurrences have satisfied me that they had far superior locations at their command. The heat being terrible, and our men exhausted, we were halted to rest, and after an hour or so we heard heavy firing on the other side of Centreville, and very soon learned that our General (Tyler) had attacked the enemy’s masked batteries at the head of Rocky Run, about two miles from Centreville, which, as the papers have ere informed you, was the celebrated proceeding of the 18th instant.

During the heat of the engagement our brigade was ordered up, and upon reaching the scene, the Sixty-ninth and other regiments had been withdrawn. That affair at once destroyed both Tyler and others of his kind, in the estimation of the men, especially as Tyler had received orders to remain at Centreville – until further orders.

We then marched outside of that point about two miles, and encamped on the left of the road, (Warrenton,) while the Sixty-ninth and others were opposite. We remained here, in sight of the enemy’s advance posts, from that time until two o’clock Sunday morning when the advance took place. Both before reaching this point, and when we reached it, my command was engaged in that hazardous business of skirmishing, and on Thursday night in particular I was in advance of the lines a mile at least, and remained out until ten o’clock at night, when I was called in; and while out, however, and about sunset, I arrested three men in citizens’ clothes, who were hovering around our lines and satisfied me upon an examination that they should be detained. I accordingly brought them in and were duly examined by our Brigadier, General Schenck, who being in bed and rather sleepy, made a hasty examination and postponed the matter till the following morning, when after another examination, he discharged them.

After their discharge some of us who were dissatisfied took the trouble to search their houses, and succeeded in finding passes therein of a very recent date signed by our General Mansfield’s Aide-de-Camp, Captain Drake De Kay, which showed that they were spies, and had used them for that purpose in our lines. From that I made up my mind that I should take not more prisoners, but if, while prisoners, they should be accidentally shot, I would not complain of my men.

While we remained at Rocky run, and before advancing, I was led to suppose that we were waiting reinforcements of both men and heavy guns. At the appointed hour, two A. M. Sunday morning, and before prayers, we moved off at a quick pace but without making any unnecessary noise. Our division, (Tyler’s,) consisting of the Second New York, First and Second Ohio, Sixty-ninth, Seventy-ninth and others, took the lead, in the meantime our scouts and pickets being thrown out. At five A. M. the line halted and our regiment was thrown forward in advance, while the Sixty-ninth and Seventy-ninth took a position on our right. After reconnoitering the enemy’s position with our glasses, and waiting for the signal gun to be fired, we drew up by the flank so as not to be under cover of the woods, and at the same time near enough to make a charge on the enemy’s battery. A little after six we first drew the fire of the enemy by imprudently showing our command, or rather a portion of them. Supposing it to be a small battery, as it was, we quietly passed on for the purpose of outflanking it, and in doing so, we took an apparently new made road, and marched by the left flank, and very soon after, within three hundred feet of us, we espied the enemy in large force (about 8,000 infantry). We took immediate steps to attack them, but to our astonishment the enemy planked by the left, and hastily moving off unmasked eight rifled guns on our brigade (Schenck’s) with terrific effect.

The scene that follows beggars description; for fully over a half hour we stood a perfect shower of grape, canister and round shot. Upon my honor I have never been in a hail storm where the shots fell as thick and fast. Our General (Schenck) left us there and looked out for himself, whereupon our Colonel, upon his own responsibility, ordered us to withdraw from such a murderous man-trap – in fact I may call it nothing save a slaughter-house. He we suffered most.

The brigade then took up another position on the Warrenton road, to defend our batteries – Carlisle’s battery, and a heavy 32-pounder being in position. The strife continued; the right consisting of the Sixty-ninth, Seventy-ninth, Eleventh, Zouaves, [??]., having forced the enemy from their positions across the Warrenton road, while we were outflanking them on the left, at the same time exposed to a terrific cross fire from their batteries, which fairly riddled us. At 2 P. M. we accomplished our purpose by getting on their flank and throwing our right in front of their [????] – their [????] the whole time [????……].

[????…..] up under cover of the woods, but skirting the road, and while here the Sixty-ninth, Seventy-ninth and Eight Zouaves and others came straggling along, thoroughly exhausted and used up. At this point I had the pleasure of shaking hands with Colonel Corcoran of the Sixty-ninth and other officers of the same and other regiments with whom I was acquainted. At this time the batteries of our brigade had ceased firing, and were drawn up standing in the road, the pieces being limbered up. Our brigade were about getting ready to fall in by the left flank for the purpose of marching off to cover the retreat, when, quick as a flash, we heard terrible yells up the road in our rear, a great dust flying – the cracking of pistols and rifles without number. Looking up I saw Captain Carlisle, U. S. A., and his battery in full retreat as fast as they could go. I very soon after saw that the Black Horse Cavalry were upon us, to the number of three or four hundred. Seeing that our line was broken, and some officers in full retreat, several of the officers, particularly Lieutenant-Colonel Wilcox, Lieutenant Downey, Captain Hueston and others, rallied the men, and gave them a terrible volley, which caused great scattering among them, having emptied a number of their saddles, and reduced their number before the third volley to about fifty or sixty men.

In that charge we lost several of our men, and as we did not see some of them fall, these that are now missing have been taken prisoners, but as I saw them cutting right and left with sabre, carbine and pistol, apparently not caring to take prisoners, I am of the opinion that those or most of those now among the missing who were not officers in uniform will never be heard from again.

I am confirmed in this opinion from the fact that they not only bayonetted the wounded on the field, as I saw myself, but attacked our hospitals, containing the dead and wounded of their own as well as our side; and not satisfied with that I distinctly saw them set fire to the same, and shoot and cut those endeavoring to escape. My blood boils to think of their atrocities, and makes my feelings savor of hate and revenge for fallen comrades. We mourn the loss of our physician, Dr. Alfred Powell, a noble man, who refused to leave those under his care, and was brutally murdered by them while engaged in placing our wounded in the ambulance and our Assistant Surgeons Ferguson and Connolly (son of Charles W. Connolly, of the firm of Chas. W. Connolly & Co., New York,) after a brief defence, were taken prisoners.

During the excitement our Colonel (Tompkins) was cut off from his regiment by a party of the cavalry, and, together with Colonel Corcoran, was chased and fired at by them for some distance, and our Colonel says that he saw them shoot at Colonel Corcoran and thinks he was wounded and taken prisoner, as not being as well mounted as our Colonel (who was on the Lieutenant-Colonel’s magnificent black horse), he was undoubtedly rode down.

At the time of the rally I speak of Lieutenant-Colonel John A. Wilcox was in command, and bravely stood his ground, and reformed the regiment in good order, and was ably assisted therein by the major (J. J. Dimock), Captain Hueston, Lieutenant Downey and a few other brave spirits. Those that know me can easily determine where I must have been, as I do not believe in one blowing his own horn too much. I will leave my actions to be praised or censured by others than myself.

After the charge was disposed of the regiment being formed under good order, by Lieutenant-Colonel Wilcox and assisted by Adjutant Rea, the Zouaves, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Maine regiments being in advance of us, we slowly retreated, the Zouaves having beaten back another attack of the Black Horse Cavalry while on another road and before meeting us. Whatever others may say I emphatically say that our line withdrew in good order, and that the New York Second was the last to leave, as they were the first in the battle-field. As an instance to show the falsity of any panic being in existence among the men, some of our men engaged themselves picking blackberries on the road side, while others were occupied endeavoring to spike with their own ramrods the deserted pieces of Carlisle’s battery. If that looks like a panic or a stampede I am very much mistaken. The fact is, that the men were exhausted by eleven hours of the severest fighting that ever took place on the continent; and, as some European officers have been heard to say, surpassed anything they ever saw. I do not think history can show an instance where 25,000 men attacked upwards of 100,000, and fought them in an entrenched camp with concealed batteries, as well as men for that time. The whole panic was outside of five miles from the battlefield, and in the neighborhood of Colonel Miles’s reserves at Centreville. Otherwise we should have been cut to pieces before reaching the reserve, as has been testified to by several experienced officers, that the good order of Schenck’s brigade in retreating saved the whole army.

After falling back to Centreville and taking our position behind the reserve we received orders to fall back to our old camp, a distance of thirty miles, (Ball’s Cross Roads,) which we reached in food order at 6 o’clock next morning. About 10 o’clock Sunday night orders were issued for the whole line to fall back – the reserve and all which they did in good order, and without being annoyed by the enemy save by numerous barricades on the road, which had to be removed.

We were subsequently removed to Washington, and are now in camp recruiting as well as reorganizing the regiment. We number all told now only 700, so you see this campaign has pretty well used us up. We named our camp Powell, in honor of our noble Surgeon. As far as I can ascertain the enemy lost four times as much as our side, otherwise their main body would not have fallen back on Manassas Gap to recruit; however some of their advanced cavalry are still hovering around our pickets at Vienna and Fall’s Church, but will not dare advance nearer.

In conclusion I must say that although repulsed we are not disgraced, but have taught those cowardly scoundrels, that though in entrenched camps and behind masked batteries, and hid in the woods, they were whipped twice that day by one-quarter their number, and that our side withdrew from Exhaustion only, in fact, I must say that at a convivial party of the officers of our regiment held during Saturday night, the probability of a defeat was confessed, and firmly believed in by a majority of us who were present.

Our party sang a different tune on the following night (Sunday), although on account of our fortunate escape we were joyful in the extreme. Our loss will be heavy, but at present, on account of the number missing, we are unable to make out a full report.

Our men behaved nobly and surpassed the finest troops in the world, bout our volunteer (political) generals, as well as some favorite political colonels, behaved shamefully, and in many instances exhibited both cowardice and inefficiency – the exceptions, otherwise, were very few.

I shall await the re-organization of the regiment before taking steps, but if we are again placed under the command of politicians I shall resign my position and return to civil life. However, in the interval I will endeavor to obtain a furlough for a while, and see you again before entering upon another campaign.

I omitted saying that I did one thing for effect during the heavy fire, which had the best influence on the men, when I tried them by giving them orders, and that was the little trick of quietly smoking a cigar. While the men were falling around me I must confess my coolness was rather forced, but it had the desired effect on the men and I was satisfied.

New York Evening Post, 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Pvt. Caleb H. Beal, Co. H, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle

25 06 2012

Arlington Va, Camp Porter

July 23rd, 1861

Dear Parents,

Thank God my life is spared, which is a miracle I assure you. The last letter I wrote you was the day before we marched to the battle field we, started at 2 O Clock that night and marched until 10 O Clock the next morning, and then were engaged in one of the most terrific battles ever fought in this country without stopping to rest at all, and we were all tired out when we arrived, we dropped our blankets and haversacks tore down fences, and rushed right up a steep hill to the enemies batteries.

I have often read of battles but never thought I should see the horror of war, which I did yesterday. I have seen enough. I pray and hope I may never witness such a again, but we are in for the war and may have to be in another battle before 3 weeks.

We fought bravely and the 14th as hard as any other regiment, but we were all obliged to retreat with a great haste, we are all back to our old camps that is those who are alright, all jaggered out having marched all night and yesterday through woods swamps and a hard march it was as we were afraid we should be cut off by the enemy, and if we had been it would have made an awful for all of us. We were in such confusion my legs are all swollen and my feet blistered and if you could look at our camp this morning, you would see a lot of dirty tired and limping lot of soldiers. It rained when we reached our camp and we all laid down and slept just as we were having all lost our blankets.

The rebels are the most cowardly I’d ever heard of. They actually came out of the woods and bayoneted our wounded, and the report is this morning that they have burned up the building where our wounded quartered. The rebels were all concealed in what is called masked batteries being ditches 14 feet deep in the edge of woods and you can not see them until you come right upon them. They say they extend for 3 miles and every little way is a battery. If they had come out in the field in a fair fight we should have cut them up awfully, but they had every advantage of us, they are very tricky. They came out and waved the American Flag and enticed our men to rally thinking it was our troops and when we got near them they drop the flag and fired on us doing awful damage.

We did not have so many men as we expected as one brigade which was to attack the batteries at another front from us were led 10 miles out of the way by their guide. Our Colonel was wounded and I helped to carry him on a litter for a good ways, he I think is not dangerous, although he did not speak and looked like a corpse, every one in the regiment is rejoicing over his narrow escape.

As we fought for 5 hours amid shower of cannon balls, grape shot bomb shells and bullets, at one time we were slipping down and marching up a hill to avoid the fire, when the 71 st reg. of NY mistook us for the enemy and poured a volley in to us, which you can judge somewhat of when I tell you that 6 or 8 of us were all in a heap in the dirt and the bullets striking nothin’ a fool of us. One of my mess mates had his cap taken off by a cannon ball. We made 3 rallys up the hill. But the enemy could not be got at. The zouaves were cut up awful! Our Major Jourdan was one of the bravest officers on the field riding and leading us on with, now boys “recollect your uniform, Brooklyn, and the Flag of your country.” With cannon balls striking all about him, we all thought that the enemy took him for Gen’l Mc Dowell as they kept up a continual fire at him, but it was the will of divine Providence that he should not be shot.

You will see all the publications in the paper which will give you statistics of numbers more accurate than I can, get the NY Times or Herald if you can.

When I woke up last night I found your letter laying beside me and was glad to hear from you. I read it and fell back to sleep again, and slept till this morning. This is all I can write now. I’am so tired and exhausted, tell the girls I received their letter, but had not time to answer it. Give my love to all and when I get settled I will try and write a gain.

Your affectionate son C H Beal

Excuse haste

P.S. Send some newspapers if you please.

We have marched altogether for the last 3 days 70 miles.

One in the regiment is rejoicing over his narrow escape.


Transcription courtesy and with permission of The Red Legged Devil

Original in the private collection of Anthony Dellarocca, Genealogist and Historian with the 14th Brooklyn Co. E (Living History Group)

Contemporary Accounts of the Battlefield After Confederate Withdrawl

10 05 2012

In yesterday’s post I reproduced an 1865 account of what the 8th PA Reserves saw on the battlefield of Bull Run in the spring of 1862, and wondered whether there were any contemporary accounts to corroborate. Reader Vince, host of Lancaster at War, sent along this account published in a newspaper of the time describing the condition of the battlefield. Also included in the post is the above photo supposed to be a group of civilians posing in front of some disturbed remains on the battlefield of Bull Run (which can be found at Colgate University). I’ve never seen this photo before, and the year it was taken appears to be unknown, but if it is what it is thought to be, it’s the only such photo I know of. Thanks to Vince for pointing it out.

And right here on Bull Runnings, we have this letter. Not corroborative of everything, but of some things.

“Primary” Accounts, Chickens, and Eggs

9 05 2012

Friend Ron Baumgarten of All Not So Quiet Along the Potomac sent me a link to an apparently corroborating account of “rebel barbarities” at Bull Run. While the 8th PA Reserves (37th PAVI) were of course not involved in the battle, they had occasion later in the spring of ’62 to spend some time on the field:

Evan Woodward, Our Campaigns, p. 91 – While here many of us visited the Bull Run battle field, situated about seven miles distant, finding but few occupied houses on the road, most of the inhabitants having left, they believing the stories so freely promulgated in the Southern papers of our monstrosities. Where they remained at home a guard was furnished for their houses and their property protected. Near the battle-field were a number of huts lately occupied by the enemy, and over the door of one was found nailed the cross bones and skull of a human being. Leg bones were also found with the marrow but partially dried up in them, from which finger rings had been sawed off. What singular and refined tastes the chivalry of the South have! It was noticed that while there were quite a number of bibles and tracts left in their cabins, there were no cards to be found, but whether this was to be accounted for by the fact of their being conscientiously opposed to gaming, or considered the cards the most valuable of the two, we cannot say. The field, of course, possessed much interest to all, and the important positions were carefully examined. The bones of men and horses lay scattered about unburied although the enemy laid in the immediate neighborhood for eight months. Near the water courses were found the skeletons of many of the wounded who had crawled to them to quench their thirst.

So, is this an accurate account of what the 8th Reserves (my great-great-uncle’s regiment) saw on the battlefield, or a convenient working in of the testimony before the committee that was common knowledge by 1865, when this regimental history was published? Some primary material is more primary than others. The above is close enough to the JCCW testimony to raise an eyebrow or two. Contemporary correspondence would help firm this up.

JCCW Barbarities – John Kane

8 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 478 – 480

WASHINGTON, April 24, 1862.

JOHN KANE sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Were you present at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What position did you occupy there?

Answer. I was sergeant in the 10th company of the 79th regiment, and acting orderly to Colonel Cameron.

Question. Were you near him when he was killed?

Answer. Yes, sir; not more than 15 or 20 yards from him.

Question. Will you state the circumstances of his death, and what was done with his body afterwards?
Answer. He was standing conversing with a lieutenant of the 10th company in relation to taking off the wounded, when he received a bullet in his left breast and fell while in the act of speaking. He endeavored to say something after he was shot, but the blood gushed out of his mouth and nose, and he fell, dying almost instantly. As soon as it was ascertained that he was dead, some eight men placed his body across their muskets, and carried it back off the field, and placed it in an ambulance of the second Maine regiment. The surgeon at first objected to our placing a dead man in the ambulance, saying it was needed for the wounded. But when we told him it was the body of Colonel Cameron, the brother of the Secretary of War, he said we could put it in there.

At that time General McDowell rode up and told me to order our men, who were scattering, to rally on the hill and try to form a square and prepare to repel some cavalry who were coming. I replied that I was in charge of Colonel Cameron’s body, and wanted to take it back to Washington. He then told me to pass the order to the first officer of the regiment I met, when I could return. I mounted Colonel Cameron’s horse and rode back, until I saw the major of the regiment, to whom I gave the orders of General McDowell. General McDowell coming along there, I informed him that I had given his orders to the major of the regiment, when I got permission to return to where I had left the body of Colonel Cameron.

When I got back I met the surgeon of the regiment, who informed me that the hospital had been taken possession of by the enemy, and several prisoners taken; and that if I went where we had left the ambulance with the body of Colonel Cameron I would also be taken prisoner. I replied that it would not much matter if I were, and that I should try to find the body. When I reached where the ambulance was I found that some ten or fifteen of the rebel cavalry— black horse cavalry, as I understood—had been there, thrown all the bodies out of the ambulance, and driven it off for their own wounded. One of the surgeons then told me that I had better make the best of my way to Washington, for if I remained there I should be taken prisoner. I accordingly returned.

I afterwards went out with a flag of truce from Colonel McCunn’s headquarters to endeavor to get the body. I saw a Lieutenant Barbour, who was the senior officer of the post at Fall’s Church, to whom I gave my papers. We were obliged to wait there until he communicated with Colonel Stewart. Towards evening the messenger returned and said that we could not have permission to go to Centreville, but they would forward the papers to headquarters, and would give me an answer the next day. The next day we returned, and were informed that we could not have the permission we asked, because the papers were addressed “to whom it may concern;” that it did not concern them, and if they were not officially addressed they would not recognize any papers sent to them. I asked Lieutenant Barbour to see that some mark was put upon the grave of Colonel Cameron so that it could be found, and he promised that he would do so.

When Centreville was evacuated in March last, I accompanied a party down there to obtain the body of Colonel Cameron, but we could find nothing to indicate where the grave was. We asked one man living there—Mr. Lewis, I believe—who we understood knew where the grave was, but he denied having any knowledge of it, which I have reason to believe was false. I took the party to where Colonel Cameron fell, and also to where the ambulance was that his body was placed in. We met a slave, who said he knew where the body was, because he had heard his mistress—a widow Donn—say it was his body; and he had seen a locket, with a picture in it, and some papers that had been taken from his body. The. negro said the body had remained on the field from Sunday till Thursday before it was buried, and that he had noted the place where it was buried particularly, as he had understood that a reward would be paid for finding the body.

We went to the place pointed out by the negro and opened the grave; we found several bodies there; they had to all appearance been thrown in in any way, just as they came to them; in endeavoring to remove the remains of Colonel Cameron without separating them any, which we did by inserting a board under the lower part of the body and pushing it gradually and carefully up towards the head, we had to take off one of his arms and the skull of another body that was lying on it; we recognized the body from the clothing on it; from a shirt that I had myself bought for him in Washington, and from a truss that we found on the body; several officers with us, who knew Colonel Cameron, also recognized the body; we placed the remains in a rough box coffin that we made there and brought them away with us; the other bodies in the same grave or ditch appeared to be bodies of private soldiers.

Question. Had anything been taken from the body?

Answer. Yes, sir; we found his pockets turned inside out, and his watch, ring, purse, locket, boots and spurs had been taken away; he had over $80 in his purse, for on the morning of the battle I had taken out of his valise and given to him four twenty dollar pieces and some smaller gold pieces; at the time he fell I took his revolvers and keys, and brought them back with me.

Question. Did you make any inquiry as to the rifling of the body?

Answer. Yes, sir; and I was told that the body was rifled by some of the black horse cavalry, and that some of the articles had been shown by one of Stewart’s cavalry.

Question. From whom did you learn that fact?

Answer. This negro said his mistress had told him so; and I heard others speak of it; Lieutenant Barbour said he had heard something of it from his own men.

Question. Who buried the body of Colonel Cameron?

Answer. This negro said that he and two other negroes had buried the bodies there; the other two negroes have been carried away, but this one managed to remain some way; an order was given by some one that each resident should see that the bodies near their houses were buried; that is the way these negroes came to bury them; they dug the hole and put in it all the bodies they found anywhere near.

Question. Did you ask this negro who had rifled Colonel Cameron’s body?

Answer. Yes, sir; he said he did not know, except that he had heard his mistress say that it was done by one of the black horse cavalry when they took it out of the ambulance in which we had left it; the negro said the pockets were turned inside out when he came across the body at the time they buried it.