Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman, Diary Entries

21 02 2022

Alex. Mon. July 15, 1861

I got a telegraph to go to Wash. to meet Gen. McDowell & bring Col. Miles. Margaret & I went up with him in the 9 a.m. boat. We met Gen. McDowell & he changed for Col. Miles to go up the Little River Turnpike & my division on the Old Fairfax Road south of the railroad as far as Sangster’s & then probably cross the Occoquan at Wolf Shoals & so on to Brentsville & cut the rail road which communicates with Va.

I went to see Gen. Mansfield but did not find him in. I had dinner at one & came down at 3 p.m. I met Lt. Charles Norton of the Navy. He was on the Seminole & is detached. Matilda is better but not well. Margaret is coming down in the morning to see me start.

After I got down the order to march came. Col. Miles had to start at 3 p.m. We will have to start at 10 a.m. to make our distance to Bone Mill on the Accotink. I was busy till night, have been since 11 p.m. with the brigade commanders arranging the details of the march tomorrow. I believe that we have now done all we can do [in] the short time left us to prepare. The day after tomorrow we will probably meet the enemy. It has been rather cool today.

Five men who escaped a call in mass arrived in town late this afternoon & now after 11 p.m. eleven more. A large portion of the population wont be impressed to serve against the U. S.

Alex. Tues. July 16, 1861

I did not get to bed before midnight. There was an alarm of an attack on our pickets at Springfield. It did not amount to much. Margaret came down in the 8 a.m. boat. I telegraphed for a carpet bag & some things but she did not get it. The first Brigade commenced the march at 10 a.m. Some regts. will be delayed by the misconduct in Lt. Symonds in referring to some provisions at night. We expect to get off about 3 p.m. Mr. Durn of Indiana sent word by Margaret that he wants to go with me. I telegraphed for him to come. We have a pleasant day, though it threatens rain. No instructions have come yet.

Sangsters. Va. on rail road Thurs. July 18, 1861

My written instructions did not arrive on Tuesday till about one p.m. & no horses for the guides although I telegraphed in every direction. A heavy rifled gun was also still behind.

Towards 5 p.m. Gen. McDowell arrived & soon after the gun with jaded horses. It came from Arlington. I also learned that I could get no horses for the guides, so ordered six from the A. Q. M. at Alexandria. As soon as we got part of them we started. In the night some of our guides joined us & reported that only three horses were sent. Capt. Tyler is one of the most inefficient Qr. Ms. I have had to deal with.

We soon overtook the rear of the column & took our opportunities to push ahead.

Before we left Gen. McDowell recommended to go on to the Pohick, about two miles further. I got there before sundown & found most of the First Brigade, Col. Franklin there. It is fortunate that we went on, as we would have found it almost impossible to encamp on the Accotink, it is so hilly & woody.

We bivouacked on a high hill, with the troops around us. The 11th Mass. was detained so late by the neglect of Capt. Symonds to furnish them rations, that the[y] got behind everything & did not get in till 3 a.m. & we were up & ready to march at daylight. We did not however start till 5 a.m. as I had sent back horses for the big gun, as it had stalled on a high & difficult hill at the Accotink on this side. I finally started & left a guard for it. I had sent back some horses from the Artillery wagons to help up the hill & had to wait a little for their return.

We at last got started, but had a continual succession of delays. The road is very narrow & lined with thick wood almost all the way & was crowded with troops. I sent forward several times to hurry them, but Col. Franklin said it was impossible for the skirmishers to advance any faster & as we were told to consider an ambuscade unpardonable I could not hurry them any more.

When the advance reached Elzy’s where the road to Sangsters & the one to Fairfax Station fork they sent me word that they had surprised a picket & the men had fled, that there were two entrenchments on the road to Sangsters & one on that to Fairfax Sta. with the roads obstructed. I passed forward to the advance & got there about 11 a.m.

Col. Franklin took a road to turn his entrenchments & whilst he was clearing the road I sent & had Col. Wilcox take the road to the Station.

In the meantime I had sent three companies of the Zouaves to try & disperse 80 men I heard were at Brinstone Mill on our left. They went & found that 11 foot & 2 cav drafted men had left in the morning for Manassas.

In the meantime the troops filed by & when Col. Howard’s brigade arrived I posted it at Elsy’s with one advanced towards Wolf Run shoals. He reported the gun at hand & it soon arrived.

In an hour Wilcox sent a note that he had possession of Fairfax Station, that 1000 men ran up the r. r. & 1000 towards the Court House. I sent this note to Franklin with orders to push ahead. I also ordered the troops to be ready to march at 3 p.m. & join Franklin at SangstersXHoward’s Brigade. I went forward with Lowe’s Cavalry. As we took the road they turned the place said to have the entrenchments we saw them to the right & went to visit them. They are two lines a little camped, poorly made, for Infy & will hold about 500 men. Nearby we saw their campXGordon, burning. They fled after our troops reached Elys & set fire to their store houses of corn & provisions. We found 11 barrels of flour & a pile of cornXmarked Confederate States. Also many of their mens shirts & some fresh beef & bacon.

We reached here about 5 p.m. & found Col. Franklin in possession. He reported that the retreat commenced at 5 p.m. the day we started. The last train passed not a great while before he got here & men on foot. The last bridge in sight was just set on fire. At Elsy’s we saw several smokes & people reported some firing of musketry & cannon.

We encamped here last night & the Hd. Qrs. put up their tents. We got supper in the poor house of the county & poor enough it was. Coffee & salt & shad & poor, very poor biscuit. This morning we had a cup of coffee made by our men with sardines & bread. I was so tired I did not report to Gen. McDowell as I was under the impression he would be on his way here to make a flank march on this side. As I was writing a report this morning I got a note from Capt. Fry that they did not know where I was & that they were marching on Centreville. I left Wilcox at the Station which is but a couple of miles from here.

Mr. Dunn has gone back, whether to return to Washington or remain with the Army if we advance. I sent a note to Margaret. I also since wrote another & sent it to Alexandria by an officer going in. I am very much annoyed at not having sent forward a report last night, but I was so strongly impressed with the idea that we would proceed by the left flank that I might neglect it.

Near Centreville Va. Fri. July 19, 1861

About 11 a.m. yesterday Gen. McDowell & staff arrived. There was not much of an engagement as our troops advanced. Col. Miles had two men wounded. Our troops burned Germantown & I believe Fairfax Court House.

When the General came most of the troops were near this place, that is in striking distance. I had sent out to look for our supply train, which should have been in & towards Wolf Run Shoals & out the r. road to Bull Run. From the latter place a battery was reported on the r. r. & the bridge burned. I sent again, but I could not get any positive information. I am satisfied the battery is beyond the rear & the bridge burned.

Our position & prospects were discussed & the plan changed. We were ordered to be here by daylight with two days rations in haversacks. We waited till late in the afternoon & I was satisfied no train would arrive so we marched & the head of the column arrived at a creek half a mile from here. As Wilcox was here & water good I came here with Franklin’s brigade & left Howards at the run.

As far as I can learn all the Army is here but Hunters column. I presume they are not far off.

At Sangsters heavy firing of cannon was heard near the direction of this place.

On our arrival we learned that Gen. Tyler had attached a battery, first with Infy. 3 regts. & then with Arty & was repulsed with loss. It was without orders & against the advice of the Engineer & other officers.

Col. Richardson’s Bri. was engaged & the 12 N. Y. Vols. ran awayXnot Col. Butterfields. Our loss instead of being 60 killed & a piece of Arty is but 3 killed, 2 probably mortally wounded & but 30 wounded. It is a disgraceful affair & Gen. Tyler is not excusable.

Our provision trains have arrived & our men are cooking & killing beef. I last night ordered a lot of cattle seized for my Division fearing the train would not arrive. I have just learned that it started for Occoquan.

We had a thunder shower last evening before our baggage arrived but a deserted town afforded us shelter till our tents came.

The coffee kept me awake most of the night. Our pickets were firing at intervals all night. This morning there was firing for hours, so that it was really dangerous to be about. With these long range muskets & raw Vols. it is really dangerous to be near them.

We got some pork meat this morning, the first since we started. No orders yet.

Our loss I find is much greater than I stated before, though no one knows yet as the Vols. have not called their rolls yet. I heard Capt. Alexander of the Eng. & Brackett of the cavalry give an account of the affair. There must have been a large number of troops & the firing was very heavy.

Mr. Dunn was here this morning. He witnessed the battle yesterday. I also saw Mr. Hoard. He was also present. Quite a number of citizens have been about the camps.

I also met Col. Porter & Major Barry. The latter has been appointed Chief of the Arty. I also saw Major Parker of the cavalry.

Camp near Centreville Va. Sat. July 20, 1861

This has been a tolerably warm day. I have not felt very well, but am much better this evening.

Sec. Cameron was in camp & a number of members of Congress. Mr. Dunn & Mr. Hoard called & then Mr. Brady.

I rode up to Centreville to look at the earth works. They are very indifferent & have embrasure for five guns.

We got orders to be ready to march at six p.m. When near the hour it was put off till 2 a.m. tomorrow.

At Fairfax Station in the earth works Col. Wilcox’s men found the secession flag of the Tensaw Rifles. It was presented to me & I sent it to Gen. McDowell. I have made out my report of the march from Alexandria.

Washington Sun. Sept. 1st, 1861

It is six weeks today since the battle of Bull Run, in which I was wounded. I was hit on the right arm, a little below the elbow by a minie ball, nearly spent & it was cut out on the field by Dr. King. It hit me about two inches below the elbow, on the outside & struck the bone & I fear fractured it slightly. I was on horseback & the Doctor he commenced cutting the ball out, but found it difficult & he got off.

On the afternoon before the battle the general officers got orders to appear at Gen. McDowell’s Hd. Qrs. to receive instructions. I went & did not get home till 11 p.m. We found a number of citizens there, many members of Congress amongst them.

The plans were detailed, but no opinions asked. I asked a few questions to understand what I had to do.

Gen. Tyler was to go up the turnpike & attack with artillery the battery protecting the stone bridge across Bull Run. I was to follow Gen. Hunter who was to take a side road to Sudley’s Church, or spring, or millsXwhere it crosses Bull Run. About half way there was a ford I was to stop at & when Hunter turned it cross & we together follow down to the Stone Bridge & then I take position on Hunter’s left. The road for me to turn off did not exist & I had to follow on to Sudley’s Mills where I arrived at 11 a.m. Before we got there Tyler’s heavy guns were heard & the smoke seen at two points. I could also see two heavy clouds of dust indicating reinforcements approaching from Manassas.

Whilst waiting for the last brigade of Col. Hunter’s division to cross I heard his advance attack the enemy in his front. We could hear our men driving the enemy back. Before we could cross Gen. McDowell sent Capt. Wright of the engineers & Major McDowell, the Gen’s brother, to me for reinforcements to prevent the enemy’s out flanking them. I had stopped the first Brigade to fill their canteens, but now ordered the Minnesota Regt. to go with Capt. Wright & follow more to the right, with 5th Mass. having orders for the second brigade to follow, but leaving Arnold’s battery & the 11 Mass. to take post as reserve on the right bank of Bull Run.

In a mile we got on the battlefield & I did not find any one to give orders. Gen. McDowell & his staff had passed up about a mile from Sudley’s Springs. We found the enemy had been driven back & I stopped a few moments to see what was going on & to make inquiries. In the meantime I met the General. He ordered some of the batteries forward, nearer the enemy & me to push the 5th Mass. forward from a position they took on a side hill, where they were lying down.

I went but seeing I could do nothing there that the key of the position was on the enemy’s left I ordered up two regts to try & take the battery covering it. I went up in that direction to wait for the Zouaves & when they came up lead them towards some old fields with scattered pines. As I approached the crest of the ridge I saw a line drawn up in good order at a shoulder & in citizen’s dress. I checked my horse for an instant & surveyed them. I then turned to the Zouaves & said there are the Secession troops, charge them. They rushed forward & in a few steps both parties came in sight of each other & fired & the Zouaves ran & I believe the enemy also. I tried to rally the Zouaves but failed. At the instant the Zouaves fired a party of 30 or 40 Secession cavalry charged them & were fired upon & broke & ran, leaving some half dozen men & three dead horses on the ground. As they fled Capt. Colby’s regular cavalry gave them a volley, killing a few more. It is said this was the famous Black Horse Cavalry.

I next led up the Minnesota regt., Col. Gorman. They got close on a Mississippi regt. & were repulsed & some 150 of their men ran away.

Washington Thursday Sept. 5, 1861

I next brought up the 1st Mich. They also were repulsed. These two regts. went into the woods on the right & did good service. The Zouaves joined some other regt. & did service as skirmishers.

The 14th Brooklin [sic] Regt. came up. I joined it, but at the first fire they broke & ran. Here I was wounded. Ricketts’ & Griffin’s batteries we retook three times, but they were lost at last.

I retreated with the troops till I met Col. Howard with his Brigade. They were engaged with the enemy. I left them after a while & got my arm dressed. I then tried to rally some of the Regts. but not one would form, or advance. We finally had to retreat across the Run, but there they would not form.

I stopped a moment at the Hospital & tried to get off some of the wounded, but most of them were captured by the enemy.

When I got across Bull Run I found that not a Regt. could be rallied nor even a company. I had Capt. Arnold with a section of Artillery & five companies of regular cavalry & with them covered the retreat of the troops on our road of retreat. A few secession cavalry followed us, but a discharge of canister sent them scampering away & they did not molest us any more.

It was about sundown when we got to where the country road we were on joined the turnpike as we approached it, we met a battery of rifle cannon. Here Arnold lost his battery, but we took through the woods & fields & came on the turnpike beyond the range of the guns. We reached Centreville after it was quite dark. Such a rout I never saw before.

I was helped off my horse, but having been on him since 11 a.m., I was so benumbed in my feet I could not stand for a moment.

I got a good drink of Whiskey & took a sleep of half an hour. In the mean time our Doctor was arranging for me to continue on to Washington.

We soon got orders for the Army to retreat to Washington. We got a cup of coffee & had our horses fed & were soon off. We found the road full of fugitives & wagons, but not a regt. in good or any order. I had Capt. Low’s company of 2 Cav. with me, all the way. Some other companies also joined us.

It commenced to rain a little before we got in. At the other end of the Long Bridge was the Buffalo 21 Regt. Some of them knew me. Major Rogers gave me a tumbler of whiskey, helped me to get home. There were orders not to let us pass but as I was wounded they let me & my staff pass. I got to my door at 6 a.m. on Monday. Capt. Wright & Lt. Farquhar helped me off my horse & as soon as I got to my room, Margaret sent for Dr. Abadie.

Washington Fri. Sept. 6, 1861

Dr. Abadie soon came & dressed my arm. He made me stay in bed & required me to keep the elbow wet with cold water. This I continued for some three weeks or more. The wound healed in a few weeks without suppuration. My arm is till a little stiff & I cannot turn my wrist sufficiently. It was six weeks before I could write anymore than sign my name.

I had a great many visitors, the first day & since.

Capt. McKeever was soon relieved from my staff & then put on McDowell’s. From there he was sent to Gen. Fremont’s. I sent the officers to Alexandria to try & reorganize the Division, but they could not do much & in a few days they were all relieved. I dictated my report & Lt. Farquhar wrote it out for me. It was arranged on the 31 July & written out & sent in on the 1st of Aug.

In the mean time Gen. McClellan arrived & assumed command of both sides of the river. I was relieved from duty on the other side & ordered to report to him. On the 2 Aug. reported to him & am to have a Brigade. On the 5 Aug. was made a Brig. Gen. of Vols. on recommendation of Penn. Delegation in Congress.

I rode to the Capitol same day & met a great many Senators. Next day Congress adjourned.

On the 6th Aug. Lt. Col. Day & 3 cos. of 2 inf. arrived & are posted near here. I called on Day, the next day & the day after they went to Georgetown.

Mr. Jewett left for Buffalo [on the] 6th. He took us over to Arlington & the Buffalo regt. the day before.

On the 12 Aug. Dr. Tripler arrived & called. He is the Chief Med. Off. on Gen. McClellan’s staff.

On the 13th I got my commission as Brig. Gen. Vols. & accepted same day. I would have declined but the Penn. Delegation had recommended me. It adds but little to my pay as I get so many longevities.

On the 14th got news of the death of Gen. Lyon near Springfield, Mo. A gallant officer sacrificed from having an inferior force.

Had a photograph taken for Harpers Weekly at Mr. Leavin’s regiment.

On the 15th went to Alexandria to see Col. Davies about my Brigade & Staff. I have the 5th Maine & the 16, 26 & 27 N. Y. We are posted on the left of Ellsworth.

On the 16th Dr. Tripler examined my arm & says the head of the bone is fractured.

Capt. Griffin’s battery is from the other side & encamped near us. He belongs to Gen. Porter’s Brigade. The latter is Provost Marshall & has been for some time. He has cleared the city of straggling officers & soldiers. The disorganization after the battle was frightful. For seven days after I feared for the safety of the city. I believe that the Confederates could have taken the works on the other side if they had attacked us. We lost the 3 mos. men & the panic was great. The chance soon passed. The truth is the enemy suffered so greatly they could not pursue us with rigor & some of their regts were as badly disorganized as ours. On the 20th we had quite a stampede in town about an attack on the city. On the 24th the mayor of Wash. & some women secessionists were arrested. Mr. Phillips & Mrs. Greenhow.

On the 26th Mr. G. W. Eddy arrived. Wants to be a pay master. Has not got it yet & I fear wont.

Stamped[e] & constant alarm on other side.

I was down town & saw Mr. G. H. Penfield make bread & bake it in 30 minutes by Prof. Horsford’s method. It is the great desideratum of the age. Now bread making is reduced to a science. Any child can succeed in making good bread. The bran takes out some of the nutritive qualities & what makes the bread size. This is prepared in the shape of a powder of phosphates of or phosphoric acid & bicarbonate of soda. These are mixed with water & or rather dry mixed with the flour & then mixed with water & baked at once. He is trying to introduce it in the army.

Sept. 1st Heard of the success of the expedition to Hat[t]eras Inlet of Com. Stringham & Gen. Butler. This I hope inaugurates a new era is in our operations. It should have been done 3 mos. before.

The first week or ten days after the battle the weather was cool & then about as many very warm. Since then much rain. It must have been same in the Confederates & we learn they have much sickness.

A few nights ago Griffin’s battery with a Brigade (King’s) went & crossed the Chain bridge & established batteries on the other side. The night before more troops went out. We met them, as we returned from Mr. Young’s when we had been to eat fruit & met Col. & Mrs. Paulding.

I got letters almost every day from some one for my influence to get an office. Jacob Stauffer formerly of Manheim has called. Jno. Bastruff who lives near here & I have had letters from Dyer & Mayer of Manheim.

I got a letter from Andreas Heintzelman in Kansas who inquires whether we are relatives. I have a number of letters of congratulations on my escape from the battle & promotion.

I have been several times to see Gen. McClellan, but he is hard to see & two weeks ago I thought he stood on his dignity, so I have not been to see him since. I must try & go to duty next week.

It cleared off today & has been pleasant. I walked down town with Capt. Lathrop. He got a commission as Capt. in the 17 Infy. & draw my pay of Major McClure for Aug.X$330.63X12 days as Col. & 19 as Brig. General. We went to Express office & got a keg of crackers some one sent Margaret & a box of ointment sent me from western N. Y. for my arm.

———-

Samuel P. Heintzelman’s Diary resides at the Library of Congress

This transcription was made by and presented with the permission of Dr. Jerry D. Thompson, author of Civil War to the Bloody End: The Life and Times of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman

Contributed by Daniel Winfield

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Sgt. Arthur T. Pickett, Co. I, 38th New York Infantry, On the Battle

19 02 2022

THE THIRTY-EIGHTH NEW YORK REGIMENT

Editor Star: In perusing the journals, I barely see notice of the Thirty-eighth New York Regiment as being engaged on Sunday in defense of my country’s flag. Allow me, Mr. Editor, to say that I was there, being hurt seriously in the right leg and left hand and head. I think that I for one was in the action, and if credit is awarded, the Thirty-eighth are worthy of it. We covered Sherman’s battery bravely, and also covered the gallant firemen of New York when the Black Horse Cavalry charged upon them. Company I was three times driven from a battery, and I saw the secession flag lying in the dust. We marched on the field with 64 men, and we now number 30. Our officers led their men gallantly, and many a poor fellow lies dead on Virginia’s soil. While our regiment was advancing on the enemy our eyes were greeted by the glorious flag of our county, and we supposed that they were some of our own men. We marched at double quick to make a charge on a battery that was pouring a deadly fire upon us; but to our cost we found that the stars and stripes were used as a decoy, and under cover they mowed us down. We retreated, and laid down and loaded our pieces, and sir, our boys marched right ahead, and we avenged the deaths of our comrades. My humble opinion is, that if we had been then reinforced we could have whipped them and sent their black hearts to h—l! I hear it denied that the enemy butchered our wounded, and I beg leave to say that I saw the enemy deliberately bayonet our poor men, and they asking for mercy. Such cruelties are not on record, and my wish and prayer is that my wounds will speedily heal, and the remnant of the Thirty-eighth are ready for the field. We bore the regiment banner of the honored old chieftain, Gen. Winfield Scott, and the regiment did not disgrace the colors they bore. Please insert this in your paper, and you will oblige a type and a soldier.

Very respectfully,
Arthur T. Pickett
2d Sergt. Co. I, 38th regt. Scott Life Guard.

N. B. – Our flag shall wave. Boys of New York will always be ready.

(Washington, DC) Evening Star, 7/24/1861

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38th NYVI Roster

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Lt. Henry Simpson, Co. B, 2nd New York State Militia, On the Battle

16 02 2022

Lieutenant Simpson’s Account of the Battle of Bull’s Run

The following very interesting statement of several unpublished facts concerning the battle of Bull’s Run has been very kindly furnished us by Lieutenant Simpson, and officer of the Union army, connected with the Second New York regiment, which took an important part in the battle.

The statement of Lieutenant Simpson is a plain, unvarnished tale of a portion of the hot action of the 21st inst. He says.

The Black Horse regiment made a fierce attack on the regimental colors of the Second regiment, the design being undoubtedly to capture them and carry them off as a trophy for their side. The Second regiment, both officers and men, saw at once what the enemy wished to do. But as much as the rebels had resolved to take our colors the men of the Second were determined that they should not be taken. – We well knew that they had an overwhelming force, but they did not intimidate us in the least. The fight was very smart but there was no one to sustain us. Had we had a few good and experienced generals, it is my opinion that the disastrous retreat which ensued would never have occurred. Not that I wish or could blame General McDowell. He is an excellent officer, but his force was entirely too small to cope with the enemy. But other officers were entirely behind what their county expected and hoped from them. There was only three of four wounded in Company B, to which I belonged. The orderly Sergeant of our company was shot through the shoulder, the same ball breaking the leg of the man next to him. Two men of company K, were killed. One man of company A, was also killed, whose name was Maxwell, and two or three of company I were severely wounded, who have since most probably died.

I saw the whole action myself, but although I cannot state that I saw all the facts that have been published, I believe the Union forces suffered very severely – Our regiment certainly lost in killed and wounded some forty or fifty men. The regiment stood its ground manfully, and if we had had an open field, and no favor, we would have made the rebels scamper in double quick time.

The Sixty-ninth Regiment New York State Militia, performed prodigies of valor. They stripped themselves and dashed into the enemy with the utmost fury. The difficulty was to keep them quiet. While the Second was engaging a rebel regiment they retreated into a thick hay field, to draw the Northerners into a trap. The Second continued firing into them, while the Sixty-ninth, by a flank movement, took them in the rear, and pouring a deadly fire into their ranks, and afterwards charged them with the bayonet. The slaughter was terrible, and the defeat complete, for not a man stirred of the whole five or six hundred. In this attack there were very few of the Sixty-ninth wounded.

The enemy fired very rapidly and very well. They were apparently well supplied with artillery, and were not sparing in its use. The balls flew about us very thickly. During the heat of the fire our men had to lay on the ground, and thus endeavor to escape the tremendous result of the enemy’s fire. We kept as silent as possible all the while. For more than an hour the fire of the rebels continued in the most furious manner. One man was shot in the head and his face injured in the most frightful manner. His suffering was most awfully severe. For an hour and a half the Second regiment was under a most galling fire, without once having an opportunity of returning a single discharge. Had it not been for the Colonel’s prudence, or whatever it might be called, every man would doubtless have been killed. In my opinion, the army is very badly officered; there are very few good generals in the service. We are not in want of men. – They are in abundance everywhere, but we want good commanders. I have frequently heard the men say that they would never again serve under such men as Schenck and Taylor. The statement concerning the gallant repulse of the Black Horse cavalry by the Zouaves is entirely wrong. Not a man of the Zouaves was in sight when the terrible regiment came up. They dashed right down on the Second regiment, and out gallant fellows had as much as they could do to keep their ground against them. They seemed to be wile with hate and rage, rushing right on use with drawn swords – Our men took deliberate aim, and firing killed nearly every one of them. Their splendid black horses went galloping over the field. Privates Gilmore and Perry behaved very bravely. They killed from eight to twelve men and thus saved our colors. The retreat was conducted under the Lieutenant-Colonel and Major. The Colonel was most hotly pursued by the enemy and was compelled to make a precipitous retreat. The second went into the action 850 strong and lost about fifty men in the fight. I lost a very valuable black servant, a most intelligent and excellent man. His name was Charles Gilmore, and perhaps he is in the hands of the rebels.

The reports concerning the atrocious conduct of the rebel troops are quite true. They acted worse than could be expected from the Fejee Islanders. They fired into our hospital and killed our surgeons while dressing the wounds of our soldiers. The whole army is intensely excited on account their barborous acts. They fired on the hospital while the flag was hoisted. Those surgeons whom they did not kill they made prisoners and carried off.

Wheeling (WV) Daily Intelligencer, 7/27/1861

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2nd NYSM (82nd NYVI) Roster

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“Palmetto,” Bonham’s Brigade, On the Battle

20 07 2020

The Battle of Manassas.

Richmond, Va., July 29th, 1861.

To the Editors of the Dispatch: – Among the many incidents of the battle of Manassas which have been reported in the city press since the fight, there was one important fact which should not be passed over in silence, and I am surprised that it has not before this time been mentioned, viz: the share which two South Carolina regiments had in the affair.

These regiments (the 2d South Carolina, Col. Kershaw, and the 3d* South Carolina, Col. Cash) reached the scene of action about 1 ½ o’clock P. M. Just before they caught sight of the enemy, they were met by at least fifteen hundred of our men – many of them wounded – coming away from the field of battle, who told them “the day was lost!” that “we could do nothing with the enemy, for their artillery was too strong for us!” that “Col. Hampton and all his officers were killed, and the enemy were driving our forces back!” This was the tenor of the information received by these two Palmetto regiments, who had already gone over four miles of hilly and broken ground at the double-quick step, and were, of course, in no plight to plunge into a contest with twenty times their force, probably flushed with the prospect of victory, and excited to madness by the contest. But, the gallant Palmettos, although believing they were marching on to certain destruction – upon a worse than forlorn hope – never faltered a moment, except to inquire the nearest way to the scene of combat, and hurried on. They soon heard a sharp volley from a wood in front, and the balls whistled through their ranks, cutting down many of their number, while the air overhead was alive with the hoarse scream of shells and the hum of cannon shot, as they crashed through the branches around.

Charging through the wood, they came in sight of the enemy – the N. Y. Fire Zouaves and the Chasseurs – and with a cheer that was heard above the din of battle, rushed upon the foe, firing as they went! The enemy immediately broke and fled across fields, fences and ditches for about a mile; but five or six regiments of them rallied on a high hill opposite. The Palmettos made at them, but were ordered to halt. Why this order was given we could not at first see, for our ranks were being rapidly thinned by the long range Minnie and Maynard guns of the Yankees. But while asking each other what it meant, we heard the clear voice of Col. Kershaw tinging over the field, “Boys, lie down and let the artillery fire over you!” – We immediately fell upon our faces, and the artillery (consisting of two pieces of Kemper’s Alexandria Battery,) sent death and desolation among the well-drawn up lines of the foe on the opposite hill, while our men picked off the officers or individuals occupying the prominent places among them. They began to waver, and a few more shots from Kemper and a volley or two between the pauses of the artillery from the deadly Mississippi rifles of the Palmetto boys completed the rout, and the enemy fled in confusion. Their own artillery, (six splendid rifled pieces of Griffin’s Battery) was turned upon them, and lent additional terror to their flight. But the fact to which I referred in the beginning of this slight outline was this: – These two South Carolina regiments, together with Kemper’s Battery and a detachment of the Va. Black Horse Cavalry, pursued the enemy for six miles beyond the field of battle and captured over twenty pieces of artillery, besides arms and stores innumerable, which otherwise would have been carried off!

Palmetto

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/2/1861

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* The 3rd Carolina was commanded by Col. J. H. Williams. The 8th South Carolina was commanded by Col. E. B. C. Cash. Both regiments were in Bonham’s Brigade along with the 2nd and 7th South Carolina. The action described appears to coincide with that of the 2nd and 8th SC, which operated together. This mistake could have been made by the editors (mistaking an 8 for a 3), or by the letter writer, who may have been unfamiliar with the command of the 8th or 3rd SC, or may not have been an eyewitness and was reporting second-hand information. It is assumed the letter writer was a participant, but not known.





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 





Sgt. Harrison Dewey*, Co. E, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Campaign

29 06 2020

INTERESTING ACCOUNT OF THE SECOND REGIMENT IN THE BULL RUN BATTLE
By a Member of the Turnbridge Company.

Bush Hill, Va., Aug. 5, 1861.

I will endeavor to give you a true and faithful description of our march from Washington to this place after the battle at Bull Run. We left our encampment at Capitol Hill July 16th, and encamped at Bush Hill. At the time of our encamping here we were in the most advanced post on this line in Virginia. We were here formed into a Brigade with the 3d, 4th and 5th Maine regiments, under Col. Howard of Maine. We remained here but a few days when our Brigade were ordered to gain the rear of Fairfax Court House, for the purpose of cutting off the retreat of the rebels from that place, while a more powerful force advanced against it in front. We started at 4 o’clock P. M., and marched until w A. M. We then encamped about two hours. During this march we passed an unfordable stream about thirty feet wide, on a single string-piece. It is said 15,000 troops crossed at this place in two hours. The army here divided; our brigade and one other marched to the rear, the remainder to the attack in front. After marching until 1 o’clock P. M., and gaining a good position in the rear of the rebels, we learned that they had evacuated the place about two hours previous. After resting a few hours, we took up our march for Centreville, where we arrived at 9 o’clock P. M. We here encamped in the open air, as we had done for the three previous nights. Here we remained three nights. Saturday evening we were ordered to be prepared to march to Bull Run at 2 o’clock the next morning. We were all ready before the hour appointed, and every one appeared at least to be eager for the fray. We did not get under way until some time after daylight. About six o’clock, A. M., we heard the roar of cannon. The sounds were like a shock of electricity throughout our regiment, and all seemed to exert themselves to gain the battle field. After marching 4 miles from Centreville, we were halted in a woods three miles from Bull Run. We were now within two miles of the nearest combatants, whose guns and cannonading made the earth tremble where we were halted; but notwithstanding our eagerness to press forward, we were detained here nearly two hours. Had we been permitted to have pressed forward against their right flank, as we afterwards did against their left, the battle would have been decided in our favor. But we lost the opportunity by this unjustifiable delay. At length a messenger arrived for us to march on to the field with all possible dispatch. When the order arrived, at least one-third of our brigade were asleep; but the alarm sounded and in four minutes we were in line and on our march. From this place to where we commenced firing, was three miles, and we marched most of the way on double quick time. On arriving within about one hundred rods of where we formed our line of battle, the rebels threw a tremendous sight of anon balls and bomb shells among us, the shells bursting in our midst scattering death and wounds on all sides. – The orderly sergeant of Company H, who was marching by my side, fell with his right arm broken in two places. One of the color guards was badly wounded in the leg, and a private by the name of Streeter was wounded in both legs. All these wounds were from the same shell. This, however, was but one of the many shells thrown amongst us. It was perhaps as destructive as any one. All the above wounded are missing. We did not slack our march in the least until we arrived on the field, which was already strewn with the dead and wounded. We formed our line behind a hill and marched on to the lines, which were formed within about forty rods of the rebel lines. After our second fire, the rebels hid themselves in the wood and behind stumps and trees. We stood our ground without flinching until we were ordered to retreat. The right wing of our regiment immediately obeyed the order, but the left wing still maintained their ground until they were twice more ordered to retreat. Our guns were now too hot for use, and we left the field.

During the battle the rebels displayed the Stars and Stripes, and also made our private signals when we were ordered to cease firing, but quickly discovering the mistake, we fired a volley and the rebel bearer of the Stars and Stripes fell dead, as did many others. A spent musket ball struck me on the right knee, but did no injury. As we walked (not run) up the slope that carried us up to the plain where the first shells burst among us, I was by the side of Capt. Smith. We heard a cannonball in our rear, when we both sprang aside, the ball passing between us, and not more than fifteen or eighteen inches from either of us. It struck the ground but a few feet forward of us. I picked it up, intending to save it, but it was too heavy to carry.

One of the most splendid displays in this or any other battle was the charge made by the Black Horse Cavalry, supported by the Texas Rangers, upon the Ellsworth Zouaves. They were about 500 strong, the Zouaves nearly 400. They rushed upon them at the height of their speed and with horrible yells. The Zouaves formed themselves into a hollow square and received them at the point of the bayonet. For a few moments it appeared as tho’ the Zouaves were being cut to pieces without mercy. The firing on both sides ceased and the greatest anxiety was apparent; but in less than five minutes the splendid body of cavalry was more than half stretched out in death. The Zouaves were not satisfied, but continued to make partial attacks upon them until not fifty of the cavalry remained unharmed. It is stated that the most deadly hatred existed between the cavalry and the Zouaves, and that they were determined to destroy them or die themselves, and the result is as above stated. I notice contradictory accounts in the papers respecting the above cavalry, but no doubt exists here but they are, as above states, the Texas Rangers.

We continued our retreat across the plain where the first shells and balls were fired at us. As we passed over this plain, if it were possible the balls and shells fell thicker and faster than when we passed over it in the battle, but no flinching or dodging was visible among the officers and men. We passed the plain, however, without extra loss. I did not notice a single gun fired by the retreating soldiers after they commenced their retreat, which is something very remarkable. I have heard that in some regiments they did fire [?] to the rear.

It is very gratifying indeed to reflect upon the bearing, steadiness and bravery of our regiment on the field of battle. No troops ever stood firmer. I did not see one that went on to the field tremble or flinch in the least. Capt. Smith was as cool, apparently at least, as when sitting in his own house, but not more so than were Lieutenants Whitney and Bixbey. After retreating about 4 miles we were suddenly attacked on our right flank by the enemy’s cannon. The excitement now became intense in the extreme and and the panic and confusion was inextricable. The rear was cut off and fled in confusion to the left. I was in the rear of our company at this time and did not see it again until the next Friday night. I continued to bear to the left until about eleven o’clock p. m. with two others. We then lay down on the ground until 3 o’clock a. m., when we started for Centreville, but soon learned that it was in the hands of the rebels. I see by the papers that I was last seen at Centreville*. This is not correct, Wiggins and Godale fled with me and continued with me until we arrived in Washington. At the time of our separation from the regiment we had two days rations for one man, making six meals, when we ought to have had forty. The remainder was supplied with black and blue berries which grow in great abundance. About 8 o’clock Monday morning it commenced raining and continued over twenty-four hours. I may here remark that the storms and nights here are very chilly. We were exposed to this long rain without going under any kind of shelter whatever. We dared not go to any house for fear of armed rebels, nor into any barn or shed in the night because of dogs; so that we did not go under any cover whatever until we arrived in Washington. When we left the regiment we were about fifty miles from the Potomac, but the course we traveled to get there could not have been less than 125 miles. The last day we traveled 23 hours, and the last 8 hours did not even halt. The first thing I recognized was the Capitol at Washington, and I assure you it was a beautiful sight to us. We arrived at six o’clock p. m. on Thursday. I immediately recognized a gentleman in the street from something particular about him; he took us home with him and treated us in the kindest manner until Friday. I then left for the camp at this place, (the others stopping in Alexandria.) where I arrived in the evening, when I was received by the company with hearty cheers, the Captain giving the order. On our journey to the Potomac we were six times headed off by the rebel cavalry and obliged to turn back and flee. I am now detailed as Clerk of a Court Martial and must close but will write again as soon as I can find time and give farther particulars and incidents.

Vermont Watchman, 8/30/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

* Harrison Dewey of Co. E was reported as “last seen at Centreville” in the letter of “T. H. C.”, published in “Waltons Daily Journal (Montpelier, VT), 7/29/1861. The letter also mentions Wiggins and “Goodale.” Thus the extraordinary assumption that the letter writer is indeed Sgt. Harrison Dewey. See transcription here.

2nd Vermont Infantry Roster 

Harrison Dewey at Ancestry 

Harrison Dewey at Fold3 

Harrison Dewey at FindAGrave 





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





Cpl. John Fulton, Co. L (Engineers), 14th New York State Militia, On the Campaign

17 06 2020

JACK FULTON GIVES HIS VERSION OF THE BULL RUN FIGHT.

Camp Porter, Arlington Heights, July 25, 1861.

There is no doubt ere this you have heard about the battle at Bull’s Run. I want to give you some idea about our regiment from the time we left Arlington until we returned back again. We left Camp Porter at half-past 3 P. M. on the 16th, and marched 12 miles where we came to halt withing 7 miles of Fairfax, when we laid down and had some rest. Nothing of any note transpired during our march. We took up the line of march at 8 A. M. on the 17th for Fairfax. About three miles on the road the rebels had cut down a large number of trees to obstruct our march, but our division took the fields. We arrived at Fairfax at 1 P. M. The rebels left Fairfax in double quick time two hours before we got there. We passed four intrenchments that they vacated. We remained at Fairfax until 4 P. M. of the 18th, then took up our line of march for Centreville. We passed a number of encampments that they had set on fire. They left all their food and camp utensils, so you can judge the hurry they were in. We had a good dinner of the fresh beef that they left behind. We came to a halt 1 ½ miles from Centreville; you must understand we had no tents since we left our camp, all we had was the clear blue sky above us. Thank God we had good weather, but the dear lord how hot it was, soaking wet all the time, but we stand it like men so far, not a man lagged behind and all feel anxious to meet the enemy. But last night was the hardest of all nights, such firing of muskets by the ‘great man’ I never heard before, we were up and down all night. We have in our Brigade the 8th N. Y. S. M., Mart Owens’ Regt. 27th New York Volunteers, one regiment of regular and 600 marines from the Navy Yard besides the gallant 14th; also Griffin’s West Point Battery and a troop of cavalry under the command of Brig. Gen. Porter; the division under Gen. McDowell. Tell Mart Owen that Abe Beatty was in our camp on the 19th; Babcock is sick yet, he is not with his regiment. On the 20th two regulars were flogged for desertion one got thirty-five lashes the other fifty, and in ten days to be drummed out of camp. Now comes the tug of war; we left camp at 2 ½ A. M., for Bull’s Run. Nothing of any importance transpired for about three miles, until we came to a bridge that the rebels hart partly destroyed; but we soon repaired it enough to cross. Shortly after we got on the other side of the bridge we met Gen. McDowell; he put us in quick time for two and a half miles, then came to a halt for about ten minutes, and sent scouting parties. Here we were within 1 ½ miles of the enemy – that is, on a line – but we were to march about six miles, so as to surround them. Here we heard the first gun about 8 A. M., and we kept scouting until we passed Bull’s Run stream. Here we saw Gen. McDowell again; we were within 2 ½ miles of the enemy. Now comes the hot time; the order was double-quick, which we kept up for some time, until, pretty nearly played out, we came to another stream, that we had to cross knee-deep. Here all hands took a drink and filled their canteens. We could hear the guns firing like the very devil only half a mile from the enemy; then double-quick again until we arrived on the field of battle; here we took everything off except undershirts and pants; while doing this, the balls were dropping around us like hail. Then it was double-quick again, until we were in front of the enemy. All out things that we left on the field are lost. Our regiment was ordered on the left flank of the enemy. Griffin’s, Sherman’s, and the Rhode Island batteries were doing good work. The 27th Regiment, New York Volunteers, were the first to engage the enemy’s infantry, but had to fall back; then came the orders for the gallant 14th; Gen. McDowell calls on us to charge the enemy, which we did, and drove them to the woods, where they had entrenchments for their men; our men followed them up to the woods; here a number of our men got wounded; then came an order to retreat, which we did in handsome style, but could not draw them from the woods. We now had a rest for about 15 minutes. Then came the 71st and 8th (the 8th reserve for the 71st), when they opened fire with their howitzers, two in number, on the woods where the enemy had retreated, and drove them out towards their masked battery; here was a complete slaughter-house. As soon as our regiment opened fire on their infantry, the masked battery opened fire on them; such slaughter I never want to see again; our men had to lay down to load and fire. Just before we got this position, a shell wounded John Smith and Dick Coles. Inform Louis Buckman about Smith; tell him he is wounded in the knee, but not very serious. Poor Music, I am afraid, is dead; he was seen wounded in two places, on the right shoulder and leg; this I got from one of his messmates, now in the hospital, also wounded. Our hospital is full of wounded. But to return to the battle – at the time our regiment were lying down loading and firing, the Marines were ordered to cover our men, but they made a hasty retreat and left our men to be slaughtered; but the 71st came up and gave our men a chance to retreat, which we did in good order. The fire was too strong for the 71st, and they had to retreat. Shortly after this our regiment was fired into, some say by the 71st, others say the 8th, and our boys returned it, and made them come out of the woods mighty quick. All this time we were carrying the wounded off the field, I had just carried a wounded man up to the hospital when there came news that our Colonel was wounded. Burtis, Briss, Connor, Ritchie and myself went and brought him off the field amid showers of bullets, but, thank God, we came off safe. It was at this time that our army began to retreat, and it became general throughout our lines. We carried our Colonel about two miles on a litter, when we became exhausted and had to set him down, and some of our men took him up and carried him to the bridge that we had repaired when the rebels cut off our retreat, and that is the last we saw of him. Drs. Homiston and Swalm were with him at the time, also Lewis Phillips, Charles Phillips’ brother, and that is the last we saw of them. Bob Webb had his rifle shot out of his hand at the same place. Thank God, our regiment did their duty, they were the last of our division to leave the field; they made 7 distinct charges on the batteries. Our regiment has not been represented in the proper light; I understand the Zouaves got all the credit; they made but one charge, and that was when the Black Horse Cavalry charged upon them, and that was the last. Some of their men were in our ranks and some in the 71st, and others in the 8th, all the rest were up to the hospital, and you could not get them on the field again; they said they would not go on account of having no one to lead them; that their officers were not worth a d—n, that was the expression of them all. Those that were with the 71st, it is said, did very well, but I did not see them. I must close this letter, for the mail is about starting for Washington. There are about 140 men that we cannot account for, and 60 or 70 that we can, which makes 210, yet we have some hopes that these figures will be reduced, and I hope they will. I suppose we will remain here some time to recruit.

Yours,
John Fulton.

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

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Clear Copy at Newspapers.com 

Contributed by John Hennessy

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

John Fulton at Ancestry 

John Fulton at Fold3





E. T. W., 14th New York State Militia, On the Retreat and Aftermath.

8 06 2020

Willard’s Hotel, Washington, D. C.
July 25, 1861,

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle:

I reached this city yesterday morning, in time to see many of the straggling soldiers as they returned from the advance of the Grand Army. Here one gets at the truth in the rough, unblemished by the sensation despatch mongers of the day. It has been a terrible rout. We have not suffered the enemy to rout us, but have performed the task ourselves. Up to 4 P. M., on the day of the last engagement, our troops were gradually unmasking the batteries and positions of the enemy. A heavy reinforcement came up from Manassas to the rebel side, for which, strange to say, no provision had been made by our commanders, and the word fall back was given by a division officer. Simultaneously a report started that Johnson, with his whole division, was flanking our men, when the run of the teamsters commenced, interspersed with members of Congress in all haste, adding to the confusion, and producing a panic such as probably the world ever saw. The roads were crowded with soldiers, civilians, cattle, horses and baggage, each trying to outdo the other in speed to save life. The panic extended to over half our forces, while strange to say those who did retreat in order, could not be prevailed upon to make a stand at Centreville, nor even to bring off the wounded. There was too, a fatal lack of ambulances, only litters carried by hand could be had, and thus our gallant colonel of the 14th Brooklyn Regiment was abandoned, after having been carried come distance, his friends claiming that the only ambulance they could procure was destroyed on the way; he was first carried from the field to the church, temporarily made a hospital, thence to a blacksmith’s shop, where he desired to be left; and finally, after being carried some little distance beyond in an ambulance, became separated from the soldiers, and has not been heard from since. From the best descriptions I can gather of his injury from intelligent parties, it was a flesh wound in the thigh, from which he lost much blood, but which was not of a dangerous character. He was in good spirits when last seen, suffering a little pain, but talkative and hopeful. The soldiers all say that he led them into action in the most gallant manner, and first had his hat shot off by a rifle ball; afterwards receiving the musket ball in the thigh; and even after receiving this sever injury, after nearly fainting from loss of blood, he ordered a soldier to hold him up, cheering on his men, utterly regardless of himself, and as determined as ever! Such a record is Col. Wood’s – may he yet be spared. The enemy sent in word that our wounded should receive the same attention as their own men. All here believe that the Colonel is beyond our lines, in their hands a prisoner, but carefully nursed by the two surgeons of the regiment, both of whom have not yet come in. No doubt they are with the wounded, and in a few days we shall see them again. Lieut. Col. Fowler came in, after having been given up as dead. He lay concealed in a thicket until dark, and then marched in on foot. All concur in this, that the 14th is entitled to great credit for their gallant fighting. They stormed and took an open battery three different times, each time being overwhelmed in numbers. Thirteen Colonel of other regiments are yet missing! – showing the desperate fighting done by our men, and that the enemy’s sharpshooters were especially ordered to pick off our officers. The Fire Zouaves performed prodigies of valor; the 69th, and especially the Rhode Island regiments, covered themselves with glory. An incident is given of Gov. Sprague, who was in command of the Rhode Island brigade, worth repeating – “Boys,” said he, rushing to the front ranks, during the hottest of the firing, when the regiment was like to be thrown into confusion by the thundering of iron hail about them. ”Boys, follow your Governor! give them the Devil!” And so they did. Military men on the field advance the opinion that the rebels suffered severe loss, probably three or four times greater than ours. They fired too high, while our men took deliberate aim. The Fire Zouaves killed at one volley, all but seven of their “Black Horse Cavalry” – a crack company. In an open field, our troops will overwhelm them. Nothing, however, can be clearer than that this advance upon Manassas was all wrong. Our troops did not want Manassas as a strategical point, why not then have passed around it, or have attacked it to the man. While Banks would make a Secretary of the Portfolio of War, worth the whole cabinet together. Meetings in New York and other northern cities could effect this change. There has been great energy in preparation lacking, to get ready our army. A second mistake can not be allowed, the present army is perfectly demoralized, not to say disorganized. A prominent military gentleman declared to me last evening that Beauregard could take Washington now in two hours time. – That the several regiments are not in condition or character to fight. All last night many rumors were flying about, that Beauregard was advancing for a night attack upon the city, and I will say that a majority of the people here believe in Beauregard’s advance very soon. The administration does not yet in my judgement realize fully the “situation.”

Nothing clearer shows this than the utter neglect to consider what should be done if defeated at Bull’s Run. No preparations of any kind contemplated a defeat, and had Beauregard followed our army he would have annihilated it, taken Washington, and dictated his orders from the White House that night. Providence seems to have protected us through many blunders. It will now take two or three months before any advance can be made; let us hope that General Greeley will learn a lesson of war by this defeat. I am sorry to say that the officers of our regiments instead of being in their several camps, are at any time to be seen lounging about our hotels and bar rooms; Wilson declared in the Senate today that one half of them “were not worth the powder to blow them to pieces.” I give his exact words. Not a few of them are intoxicated nightly. Strike their names from the roll, Mr. Lincoln, and do not place the Republic again in jeopardy through the culpable neglect of supine hands. Many of the officers outran their regiments, and some even changed their uniform to facilitate their flight as civilians! What a shameless disgrace! Incidents are related of whole regiments standing hours in the rain, awaiting a meal of victuals on their arrival here, while Colonels and officers were dining at hotels! And it is an absolute fact that the army at Bull’s Run too up the line of march at half past two o’clock in the morning, marched till ten, and men went into action without a mouthful to eat the whole day. One of the 14th boys told me he would and could have brought in our Colonel, but for his very exhaustion from hunger and thirst. And [?] plenty of baskets of champagne were known to have been sent down by brigades. These things will be corrected next time not doubt.

E. T. W.

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 

* The only E. W. located in the roster who was enlisted at the time of the battle was E. G. Wackeohagen (Wackerhagen) of Co. C.