Capt. Adolph Nolte, Co. C, 13th New York Infantry, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford

18 03 2019

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-
The March from Camp Union, and the Battle of Thursday

Camp near Centreville,
July 20, 1861.

I wrote in my last that we left Camp Union on the 16th. The columns started at 2 P.M., during the greatest heat, and marched through a dense forest, that was interrupted only by a few farms, towards Vienna, where, as is well known, Gen. Schenck attacked a masked battery with a locomotive.

We encamped with our tents in a swampy meadow ground, and at 6 o’clock next morning started again. Our march was a very difficult and tiring one. Artillery, baggage, cavalry and infantry crowded each other in a miserably narrow and rough forest road, which was seldom wide enough for two wagons to pass each other. Every moment the column halted. They had to stop and start again on a trot, stop again, and then march for miles in the greatest heat of the sun without a drop of water. The march was executed without the least regard for the men. Where there was water, we passed by. – Where there was none, we halted for hours in the most burning heat. If a well or spring was found at a little distance from the road, they said there was no time to bring water, and when (???) an hour in the burning heat.

During the march we were informed that Fairfax Court House had been evacuated, and accordingly our column passed along more to the right on the direct road to Manassas Junction. – In the afternoon we passed a rebel intrenchment which had been abandoned. The wood was blocked up at several places, with fallen trees, and their removal took considerable time. Towards evening we passed a place of about 20 houses, from which all the inhabitants had left. Only a few negroes remained. It seems as if the inhabitants had left in the greatest haste, and detachments of the 79th regiment began knocking to pieces everything left, and finally set fire to a house, which burned down.

On the approach of night, we came to a place where, on the very same day, the rebel troops had been encamped. We found their fires still burning. That day we had gone at least 16 miles. In the greatest heat and heavily loaded, and we threw ourselves, completely tired, upon the ground. In the same night we were twice started up by false alarms. The next morning we marched upon Centreville, which is situated about seven miles from Manassas Junction. Before Centreville we found some intrenchments abandoned by the rebels. Most of the inhabitants had left the place, and nothing was to be got there. Even the pump handles had been removed from the pumps.

At the head of the column marched a Wisconsin and the 12th Syracuse regiments. The latter came out from the forest about a mile and a half from Centreville upon a plateau, which formed a hill towards the opposite forest. It as suddenly saluted with a hail of canister and musket balls, which, from a masked battery and position, fell suddenly upon them. In spite of the experience of Bethel and Vienna, our Syracuse friends had unheedingly fallen upon the enemy’s cannons and muskets. The command was given to advance in battle order. The regiment formed with difficulty and advance, but when it had come to within fifty paces of the enemy’s position it was received with such a shower of canister and musket balls that it dispersed in all directions. They scattered through the whole forest, and five hours later, when we met with the rest of the regiment, there were not 200 men together.

One will ask now, why was not this attack supported? The answer is, because the brigades which followed were nearly three miles be[hind?].

After the Syracuse regiment had been repulsed a light battery was pushed forward to disperse the enemy’s artillery.

Our regiment, with the rest of those that constituted the brigade, lay about three miles behind the scene of action. We heard the cannon fire for nearly two hours until about 2 o’clock we received orders to advance. We advanced by way of Centreville and then we marched in quick and double quick time for two miles upon a narrow path through the dense forest. The heat was horrible and the dust was so that we nearly suffocated. I washed my mouth several times with a draught from my canteen, and from the pap that I spit out, one might have baked together a whole German Principality. When we arrived at the border of the forest, before which our guns operated, our regiment was placed to right and left of the road in the wood to await further orders. We were about 20 paces from the border of the forest. The cannonading was redoubled and ball from 6 and 12 pounders and cannister, whizzed like hail over our heads and struck the ground a few paces behind us. The cannonading kept up about an hour, more or less. Take it all in all, our men behaved well under their first baptism of fire. – We lay flat on the ground. When the first balls struck the branches and trees above our heads, it is true that several polite bows were made to these coarse fellows. Once when a charge of cannister whizzed over the heads of the middle division, about half a dozen tried to fall back in the rear. But half a score [?] brought them back immediately into line. Several of the men made curious faces behind the trees, but most made fun of it; and more quietness and indifference was shown than could be expected from green troops. In this position, in which we received all the balls that were intended for our artillery, which was placed on the border of the forest, we remained for more than an hour. In vain we hoped for an order to advance and try our Remington Rifles. Toward four o’clock, the artillery fire on our part was stopped, ostensibly because our guns could find no position to fire with advantage upon those of the enemy.

At last we found our column again, and went slowly back through the forest without having lost a man. On the way we found the dead and wounded of the Syracuse Regiment, 15 or 20 in number. With those of other regiments, the Ohio and Wis. There may have been thirty. One of the Syracuse regiment had one half of his head torn away sideways by a 6 pounder, so that upwards from the under jaw, there was nothing to be seen but a mass of raw flesh, blood and crushed bones. Another had his abdomen torn by a piece of shell, in a most horrible manner. The poor fellow begged for a drink of brandy, which I gave to him, as the surgeon told me he could not live for another hour. Others had musket balls in their breast or shoulders, and some had their feet crushed.

We went back to Centreville and from there a mile in advance towards the right flank of the enemy, where we took up our position. We spent here the 19th of July under hits or bushes – and to-day the 20th, we are not likely to go further. Since yesterday considerable regiments have come from Washington, so that the army will be 60,000 or 70,000 strong. Some heavy howitzers have also arrived to enable us to fire upon the enemy’s batteries from a greater distance. Our regiment lies to-day at the extreme advance post of the right flank, and when we move will be the vanguard. We shall then see whether we shall fare any better than the Syracusans.

Manassas is about 7 miles from here, and the entrenchments of the enemy are not a mile from us. We do not expect any movement to-day, but tomorrow (Sunday) we shall have a horrible sacred concert in spite of the ordinances of his Honor the Mayor of Rochester. Until then, good bye.

Rochester Evening Express, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

13th New York Infantry Roster

Adolph Nolte at Ancestry.com

Adolph Nolte at Fold3

Adolph Nolte at FindAGrave 





W. B. P.*, 12th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

13 02 2019

Letter from a Volunteer.
———-

[The following private letter from a volunteer from Salina who acted as one of the skirmishers at the engagement at Bull’s Run has been kindly furnished by his friends for publication. It does not contain any later news than has already been published but it corroborates the statements of other writers and we therefore give it to our readers.]

Arlington Heights, July 23, 1861.

Dear Brother – I am alive and well, although I have been in two engagements. We had a great battle on Thursday. I was among the skirmishers. We were in advance, and had to scour the woods to find the position of the enemy. We went into the woods and the first thing we knew we were fired into by platoons from right and left – a regular cross fire – but we stood our ground manfully and returned their fire to the best advantage. The whole brigade thought by the firing that we were all cut to pieces but we knew out business and skulked behind trees, and every time a rebel showed his face he was picked off. – We went right into their nest three times on Thursday, and we had but about 40 killed and wounded, while the enemy had from 800 to 1000 killed and wounded.

The battle was in a piece of woods about four miles long, with masked batteries every two or three rods. The rebels fight like devils. They were over two to one and had the advantage, and drove us back; but, thank God, we have another day at them.

The officers acted very poorly – that is, the officers in our brigade, not the officers in our regiment, for they stood right up to the rack.

I bid your farewell, for I may never see you if we have to go into the hornets nest again. I am willing for one to go.

The bullets whistled around us like hail stones, but they were aimed too high. There is a report that the 12th ran, but that is no so. They were the only one that stood their ground. Our brigade officers are all Michigan and Massachusetts men, and they try to screen their troops and leave it all to New Yorkers.

I thought I never could stand and see the sights that I saw the day of the battle. I saw men with their heads shot off, and others with arms and legs shot off. It an was awful sight, but it was all war.

Your ever true brother.

W. B. P.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

12th New York Infantry Roster

A review of the 12th New York roster indicates five possible identities for the letter writer with the initials W. P., and two specifically with the middle initial B (the other three not showing middle initials at all.) Only one, Corporal William B. Patterson of Co. A, joined the regiment in Salina.

William B. Patterson at Ancestry.com

William B. Patterson at Fold3

Pvt. Wallace B. Page Co. G Chittenango Falls
Cpl. William B. Patterson, Co.A Salina
Pvt. William Pelton, Co. F Liverpool
Pvt. William Peters, Co. G Canastota
Pvt. William Prindle, Co. F Syracuse





Capt. Milo W. Locke, Co. F, 12th New York Infantry, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford

5 02 2019

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-
Letter from Capt. Locke.
———-

Washington, D. C. July 24

Friend Schmers: – I have a little time to write and will give you a few facts in relation to our regiment on the 18th inst. You have very likely seen several articles in the different papers in regard to our running. I will tell you the truth as near as I can get at it.

When we arrived on the hill in sight of Bull’s Run our batteries opened on the enemy and drove them in the woods in a very short time. After this was done the skirmishers were sent in the woods on the right and made a most desperate fight of ten or fifteen rounds, when they were obliged to retreat a short distance. Next two of Sherman’s howitzers well manned were sent to the right at the same place where the skirmishers were, supported by the skirmishers, and us on the reserve, but a short distance from the field of action. The battery fired two rounds of canister shot and were obliged to retire. When they got clear we were ordered by Gen. Tyler to fall in line of battle, double quick, which was done without a man flinching or asking any question as to where they were going. We had nobody to support us either on the right or left, but we marched up like heroes.

The battle field, where the skirmish took place, was open woods on the right wing and a dense thicket on the left, where your honorable servant happened to be. (It is well enough here to state that the right wing consisted of the companies of Capts. 1st, Church; 2d, Barnum; 3d, Bower; 4th, Root; 5th, Cole; The left wing, 6th, Capt. Brand; 7th, Locke; 8th, Driscoll; 9th, Irish; 10th, Stone.) The different companies continued and marched up in double quick time through this dense thicket which was almost impossible to make our way through, until the masked battery opened on us with a most terrific fire. I gave the command for my men to fire, which was done well, and then gave the command to fall on the ground and load, which they did and fired again. Then thinking that another fire would kill half or more of my men, I gave the command to retreat, which was given I believe, to all the companies on the left and part of the right wing.

In getting out of this thicket on a retreat the men got very much scattered, and when we got to the open field it was almost impossible to find half our men, as part of the men ran considerable farther than I felt like doing at that time.

There is no doubt but that we have cowards in our regiment, but we have any quantity of men that are of the best metal. There are a good many with different diseases. Some want to resign, and others want their discharge. I say let them go by all means, we want no such men to fight such battles as we must fight.

Our companies on the left wing got to within twenty feet of this Hell Hole and I could not see a man at that distance through this thicket.

Col Walrath has been much censured for this retreat. I say Col Walrath acted the part of a soldier and a brave officer. He was nearer the scence of action than his post required him to be, and remained there during the most intense fire I ever listened to, and when the companies were on the retreat, he did all any officer could do to rally the companies. He shouted, “stop these colors or I will take them myself,” and did stop them, and several of the companies, but afterwards they were obliged to retreat to give the batteries a chance for a fire, which was kept up for nearly three hours, when our ammunition gave out, and we all retreated to Centerville, a distance of about two miles, and remained there all night, and again re-took our position in the morning and kept it until a general retreat.

I think there was 10,000 men in and around this masked battery, against our brigade of 4,000. The men all done as well as could be expected of them.

We are now encamped in Virginia near the Long Bridge, where we expect to remain for a few days to get rested and repair damages.

If our sick men don’t get better soon you will hear from me again. I have considerable interest in their health.

“He who fights and runs away,
Will live to run another day.”

I don’t think I shall return to Syracuse until this war is at an end. I had one man killed, Julius O. Westgate, and three others missing who are not known to our people in Syracuse or county.

Capt. Locke
Company F, 12th Regiment N. Y. V.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/27/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Milo W. Locke at Ancestry.com

Milo W. Locke at Fold3

Milo W. Locke obituary in New York Times





Capt. Henry Alanson Barnum, Co. I, 12th New York Infantry, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford (2)

16 09 2018

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-
From Chain Bridge, 9 miles above Washington, on the Potomac, to within 4 miles of Manassas, Virginia, July 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th, 1861.
———-

Editors Standard: It is 2 ½ o’clock. P. M., Tuesday, July 16, and all is bustle and excitement at the camp of the Onondagas. All who are well are preparing themselves for a march. Guns and equipments are put in order, haversacks are filled with 3 days rations of bread, crackers and meat, canteens with coffee, and blankets are rolled snugly cornerwise, ends tied together and swung diagonally across the body, resting on one shoulder, extra clothing &c., are all packed away, and at the call of the drum 700 Onondagas march out on the color line, and in response to the clarion voice of our gallant Colonel, “right face,” and file away to the appointed pace for our regiment join our brigade in the line of march in the direction of the enemy. Lieut. Wilburt is placed in command of the camp, and those who are unfit for the fatigues of the march, with Dr. Todd as physician, hobble out to cheer us on and prove the chagrin which they feel at not being able to go with us. Our ladies have preceded us to the bridge to take leave of us at the farthest possible point. The 2d and 3d Michigan file across the bridge, passing our front, lusty cheers being exchanged between our regiments. Affecting leave taking occurs between our ladies and their husbands and daughters, (and in this connection I must mention the heroic composure of Mrs. Captain Brower and her, as well as our, daughter Miss Ada,) and we “forward, file right,” and on to the bridge which connects loyal and rebel soil. Reaching the center of the bridge we send back 3 hearty cheers to our old camp flag which floats from the bluff, which is answered by our “cripples” and the loud mouthed guns which command the bridge. Virginia’s “sacred soil” is reached, and we file slowly up the hills and along the fertile fields and vallies of this old commonwealth, once the pride of Americans, now the meanest of the rebel States.

Scarcely a male adult is to be seen, all who are able to bear the musket having volunteered or been pressed into the service of the confederate army. The women look from their windows with sorrowing countenances, while the slaves hang upon or grin through the fences, evidently uncertain in what sentiment to indulge. One beautiful young lady stands at her gate with a defiant air, but her unusual beauty is all that some of our gallants discovered, and they are at once “thirsty.” She complies with their request for water, but at the same time gives them to understand most emphatically that she is opposed to the invasion of Northern troops, and is decidedly a “secesher.” But few slaves are seen along our route, but many deserted houses are found, some elegantly furnished and provisioned. Most of the families found represent themselves to be of strong Union sentiments. One man sitting on a fence, points out the house in which the poll of the precinct was held at the election for or against secession, and informs us that it is the only precinct that gave a Union majority in Eastern Virginia. The boys gave three hearty cheers for the precinct, and at the request of the informant, 3 more for Western Virginia.

Our route extends through a beautifully wooded country, though everything about the improvements betokens a laxity in farm management which is not found in the north.

At about 7 miles from our start, we fall in with the skirmishers of the 79th Highlanders, and further along the 79th and the N.Y. 2d – come in in advance of use from near Alexandria. Carlisle’s battery rolls past us, and heavy guns looking like ugly customers to face. At 9 P,M. Vienna is reached, and the various regiments encamp in the open fields on the ground. Pickets are thrown out, company A, of the Michigan 2d and company I, of our regiment, are detailed as pickets to guard the General’s (Tyler) headquarters. Col. Walrath and all the officers camp on the ground with the men.

The Col. tells a good story of Adjutant Titus, who rouses up at about midnight, seizes his revolver and challenges “who comes there?” It was his horse which had got hold with his teeth in the oat bag, which the Adjutant was using for a pillow, and was shaking it up for his supper.

Here is where the rebel battery opened on the Ohio boys under Gen. Schenck. The charred remains of the cars which were burned are seen at the right of the road. Reville beats at day-break of the 17th, the numerous regiments form in line, preparatory to an advance. Our brigade is ordered to take the right. The 12th is in line, and in 4 minutes, being ready in advance of the other regiments, we are placed on the right and lead the brigade. Other brigades file into the road, and the body move slowly forward. The five miles from Vienna to Fairfax is traversed, and at 11 A.M. we are in sight of the batteries and entrenchments. The various brigades ployed to the right and formed by regiments in column of division, and rested in order of battle, awaiting the command for attack. The rebel flag is in plain view, flaunting defiance to the old stars and stripes. A hurried movement of the confederate troops is observed, and in short time a courier arrives and announced that the enemy had evacuated the town, and our troops soon marched in and took possession. Some lawless soldiers, not however belonging to our brigade, set fire to several houses, which act is strongly denounced by all. Stringent regulations have been made which will prevent all depredations, even to entering the houses of the inhabitants.

Two confederate soldiers from South Carolina, were found in a house sick. They are not molested. Our march is continued, and three miles beyond Fairfax we encamped upon an open space of several hundred acres, at about 5 P.M. We have been joined by large bodies of our troops, and the view as they all take position is worth a year’s existence to observe. Bodies of cavalry, artillery and infantry, to the number of over ten thousand, covering hill, valley and plain with horses, cannons, wagons, and stacks of arms, was truly an imposing sight. Each regiment bussies itself with rations and supper. Camp guards and pickets are posted. Capt. Brand’s company being detailed from our regiment as pickets, the wearied men roll themselves in their blankets and the bosom of mother earth furnishes them a resting place for the night. Deep slumber holds us all, save the watchful guard, till 3 P.M. [sic] of the 18th of July, when the sharp report of a picket’s rifles, followed by another and another, and then a volley, followed by the “long roll” from 20 bands. Every man springs to his feet, seizes his sword or musket, and regimental lines are formed in the briefest time possible, and await orders.

Day-break soon reveals the camp. The alarm seems to be nothing serious and rations and breakfast is the next thing in order. At 8 A.M. the column advances our brigade in front. Manassas Junction is seven miles ahead, where the enemy has assembled in force. A mile and a half from the Junction, and at noon we halt. The artillery is rapidly moved in front. Aids gallop back and forth, every thing betokening an attack on the enemy’s lines. Five hundred mounted riflemen ride past at the top of their speed. At 1 o’clock P.M., a deep mouthed report is heard, and then the sudden bursting of a shell informs us that our artillery has commenced to feel the pulse of the confederates. After several shots our fire is returned, which shows the location of the confederates. We are supported by a heavy force in our rear and on our right and left rear. An uneven open space some half mile square, surrounded by woods, divides the opposing forces. Our battery is planted on a hill on our side of the field, and our brigade rests under cover of the hill and on the rear left of the battery. Our skirmishers go round the field on the left, through the woods, and reconnoiter the enemy’s position. They bravely approach within 25 feet of their line and exchange shots with them. Having found their location, they retire, and the 1st Massachusetts and out skirmishers are ordered forward to attack at the right of their center. They filed down across the field, form in line of battle, and advance steadily into the woods.

A cannon ball from the enemy brings down one of our men at our battery, and an ambulance hurries up to bring him off. Now from the woods comes the report of continuous volleys of musketry, a dozen ambulances hurry down to the scene and return with the wounded; and after some minutes the 1st Massachusetts and our skirmishers retire, having been confronted by an overwhelming force. Two field pieces are hurried forward into the woods to silence their battery, but the odds are too heavy against them, nearly all their men are killed, and several horses, and the pieces in great danger of capture, when up gallops an aid to our position and gives the command, “forward the New York 12th to the “rescue.”

The clarion voice of our gallant Colonel rings out the command, “attention – forward, double quick, march,” and we file down across the field, near the woods, forward into line, and march shoulder to shoulder into the thick underbrush, about thirty rods, and cover the safe retreat of the piece. We continue, and advance still farther into the woods, when, on reaching the edge of a deep gully, a murderous fire opens upon us, which brings to the ground several of our brave fellows, and wounded others. We returned the fire, and at the command we fell on our faces, and loaded and fired in this position until it became apparent that we were fighting against immense odds, and a concealed foe who knows our position, while we are ignorant of theirs. Still the Col. cheered us on, and our boys poured in their volleys in the direction of their reports. A heavy body of cavalry, stationed near to cover our retreat, if forced into one, gallops away, to avoid the deadly volleys from the concealed battery, which pass through our ranks, when one of the line officers, through a mistake, gives out the word that the Colonel has ordered a retreat, when the regiment, except the two right companies and part of the third, breaks and flees in great confusion, running down the Colonel, Major, and Adjutant, who again and again try to rally them, but in vain.

The mistaken command allows the line to break, and once broken and in confusion, with the volleys from the enemy’s infantry and battery pouring in, a panic seems to seize the men, and rally, except when entirely out of danger, is evidently an impossibility.

Company A, Capt. Church, company I, and part of company E, Capt. Brower, stand their ground, and continue to return the fire of the enemy. At this time Lieut. Upton, aid of Gen. Tyler, rides up to us, and exageratedly praises our bravery, and cheers us to the work. He evinces wonderful coolness and bravery, and tells us he too is of New York, (Batavia) and her sons should not flinch before the rebels, who were perhaps the treacherous South Carolinians. One of the Captains ask him what we shall do; whether to stay, and risk a charge and capture, or retire, so as to be covered by our cannon. He replies that he will report our condition to the General, and return to us, and wheels on his horse and gallops away. We continue our fire until that of the enemy ceases, when, supposing they are preparing to charge us in force, we arise, “bout face,” “right dress,” and “forward, guide right,” till we emerge from the bushes and woods, where we halt, and Col Richardson rides up to us and tells us to stand till further orders. Soon adjutant Titus comes, and orders us back to our first position before the attack. The balance of the regiment form on us, and at nightfall we retire a couple of miles, and encamp.

A host of incidents occurred during the day, which I have not time to mention. The attack was a trying ordeal for our raw troops, and army officers say that no regiment of regulars would have stood longer than did ours; though Gen. Tyler censured our Colonel for our retreat. Army regulations will not allow me to safely speak as I think of the management of the General in command, but it will be sifted.

Every one is loud in their praise of the daring and courage of those who stood till the fire of the enemy ceased. I must also particularly mention Capt. Church and Lieut. Wood, of company A, Lieut’s. Combe and Drake, of company I, and the men under their command, as well of those of company E, who remained, and those of other companies who singly joined us. Veterans of a hundred battles could not have shown more coolness and bravery. Capt. Brower, of company E, had two men shot near him, who threw up their arms, exclaiming “I am shot.” He and Lieut’s. Horner and Abbott tried to prevent their men from breaking, and followed them only to attempt their rally. – Capt. Brower and Lieut. Abbott came back, but were so overcome with the excessive heat and fatigue that they had to be assisted from the field. Several of the men belonging to the companies that fled, came to us and asked for a place in the ranks, and fought bravely till the end.

H. A. B.

The following is a list of the killed, wounded and missing, as far as could be ascertained in the confusion following the battle:

Company A – Geo. N. Cheney, missing; Joe LaBeff and — Snyder, slightly wounded.
Company I – Michael Murphy, of Fulton, Killed.
Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3 

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com

Henry A. Barnum was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions with the 149th New York Infantry at Missionary Ridge





Capt. Henry Alanson Barnum, Co. I, 12th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford (1)

15 09 2018

Letter from Capt. Barnum
———-

We have been shown a private letter from Capt. H. A. Barnum of Company I, Onondaga 12th Regiment, to his wife, hastily written immediately after the skirmish at Bull’s Run, from which we make a few extracts.

In Front of Manassas, Va.
July 19th, 1861.

We approached Manassas yesterday about noon, and soon our skirmishers returned and reported the enemy in front in large force. At once our battery opened upon the enemy to find their location. Our fire was answered by the rebels, who showed their position.

Our regiment was in advance and rested at the left of our battery. After ascertaining the position of the enemy, the 12th Mass. Regiment was ordered forward to attack the enemy concealed behind a piece of timber. On reaching the woods they were met by a severe volley, which they returned for some minutes and then retreated. This discovered a masked battery at the left of their point of attack and in on our front. Two field pieces were ordered forward to attack it, which they did, but their men were nearly all killed by the deadly fire with which they were met, and the pieces were in imminent danger of capture, when the order came for the 12th (our regiment) to forward to the rescue.

We formed into line and advanced into a low field of brush, and covered the pieces, which retreated in safety. We continued to advance, and on reaching the brow of a gully a murderous fire was poured into us, which killed several of our men and wounded others. We returned the fire and fell upon our faces, loading and firing lying down. Their fire was continued with increasing rapidity, and our left and center fell back out of reach.

Company A, and my Company I, stood their ground and returned volley for volley.

And aid of the General rode forward, and harangued us briefly, complimenting us in unmeasured terms, and rode back to report our dangerous position to the General.

We kept up our fire until the fire of the rebels ceased, and supposing they were about charging on us, I ordered the boys to return to the open field, where we would be protected by our cavalry, which they did in good order.

Gen. Richardson, commanding our brigade, rode up and complimented us for our bravery, and ordered us to stand until further orders. We were soon ordered to join our regiment, and we marched back to them, and during the whole time until we encamped for the night, our Companies A and I did not break their lines.

Our regiment is censured for not rallying promptly, which is deserved. The error will never occur again I am sure.

My company and myself have been very profusely complimented for our coolness and bravery, which I mention so that you may be assured that whatever rumors may reach home derogatory to our regiment cannot be derogatory to us. * * * *

I am delighted with my boys. They stood to a man like veterans, assuring me that wherever I went they would stand by me, and they did so bravely, and in the face of a most appalling fire.

When the retreat commenced, fearing a panic, which you know is very contagious, I cocked my revolver and shouted to my command, that the first man who started to run I would shoot, and the men knew I would be as good as my word. Nut the caution was not needed. They are brave boys, and obey my commands with promptness.

Lieut. Combe cut his foot before leaving camp, but he rode in the baggage wagon and before the fight commenced he took his place and behaved throughout with the utmost coolness and bravery. Lieut. Drake was equally cool and brave, and my boys copied their officers admirably.

I write this sitting at the foot of a tree some half mile in the rear of our position yesterday – our brigade resting and awaiting orders. The battle has not been resumed to-day. * * * *

Only one of my men was killed, Michael Murphy, a brave fellow, who fell at his post nobly doing his duty. His friends reside at Fulton. My not loosing more men was due in part to the nature of the ground we occupied, being slightly hollowing, but still more to the fact that I kept my men lying flat down, except when firing.

Our regiment looses some ten men killed and several wounded. Capt. Root looses two men. – He is unharmed.

H. A. B.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/24/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com

Henry A. Barnum was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions with the 149th New York Infantry at Missionary Ridge





Pvt. Thomas McQuade, Co. F, 69th New York State Militia, On Blackburn’s Ford and the Battle

15 11 2017

Letters from Members of the Sixty-ninth.

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The Battle at Bull’s Run – Masked Batteries and Rifle Pits – Reinforcement of the Confederate Troops – The Fire Zouaves – The Retreat – Kind Treatment by the Twenty-Eighth Regiment.

Fort Corcoran, Arlington Heights, Va,
Monday Even, July 22.

Dear T— : Thanks to God, I am safe, at least for the present. We have had an awful fight. We left here on Tuesday last for Fairfax. Everything went on favorably, the rebels evacuating their camps and trenches on our approach. We encamped the first night at Vienna, and started next morning for Centerville, which we reached that night. We passed through Greenville on our way, where the rebels had erected a breastwork, but we found it deserted. Some of the troops set fire to a couple of houses on Thursday. Our advance came in sight of the enemy strongly entrenched at Bull’s Run. General Tyler, who commanded our division, opened fire on them. He sent out skirmishers, and backed them up by a regiment. The rebels kept still until the poor fellows walked right up to a masked battery; they were only about thirty yards from it, and could not see a soul. The battery then opened, and poured a murderous shower of grape amongst the brave fellows, who stood it manfully. The rebels had rifle pits dug in front of these masked batteries, and all one could see was their heads occasionally. They kept up a raking fire on our troops until they made their retreat. It was now our turn; we were ordered up to cover the retreat. We went at double quick (about four miles distance). The rebels’ guns commanded the road, and when we got within range, how they did pepper us. Fortunately, we were ordered to lie down in the woods; we could not see them at all. Three of our fellows were wounded, and one of the Wisconsin killed – the ball that struck him would have mowed down ten or twelve of our company, had we not been lying down; it passed right over our backs. We were ordered back to Centerville, where we spent two days.

On Saturday evening we had orders to be ready to march at midnight. In the meantime we had been strongly reinforced; and so must have been the rebels, for we could hear the cars running all night bringing troops from all points continually, and their cheers on the arrival of each successive train. I hear they numbered between 75,000 and 100,000 men. Against this army we had to contend with less than half their force, they having all the advantage of position, with innumerable masked batteries, and hidden behind breastworks, woods, and sand pits.

Well, we left our camp at half-past two o’clock on Sunday morning, feeling our way as we went along by throwing skirmishers into the woods each side of the road ahead of us. About five o’clock we found them, when there was pretty smart cracking on both sides, our fellows driving their skirmishers in. We formed in line of battle in a wood, supported by the artillery and a siege gun. We advanced the latter, and let them have a shell as a feeler. In the meantime General Johnston had come up with his whole force to the support of Beauregard, and advanced on our right. We advanced under fire to the foot of a hill upon top of which was a masked battery, we could not see farther than about ten yards through the trees on this hill, so thickly was it studded. Well, having been formed, up this hill we started with a cheer that made the woods ring. The enemy allowed us to advance near the top, when they opened a terrific fire on us, cutting our fellows like sheep. The Seventy-ninth, Thirteenth (Rochester), and two other regiments (Wisconsin and Ohio) were into it too. We stood it for half an hour, alone, having no back whatever, all the other troops having retreated. During this time we made two or three unsuccessful charges to the very mouths of the cannons. We were the last that left our position.

The New York Fire Zouaves fought like tigers, twenty of them went in with us when we charged up the hill, and only two of them came back. We were the only regiment that formed prepared for cavalry on our retreat, all the other regiments running here and there making their escape as best they could. There were officers, privates, regulars, doctors, cavalry, and artillery, on one disordered mass, all running for dear life as fast as they could. The enemy’s cavalry were nearing us rapidly. We kept our square retreating by the fourth front until we came to the river that we crossed in the morning, and on the other side of which was a steep hill, when we broke, the cavalry blazing away at us within a dozen yards or two, and cutting all stragglers off. I dashed through the water, over knee deep, holding on to my musket and bayonet, as my surest and only protection, though hundreds threw them away to lighten their heels. I mounted the hill “while you’d say Jack Robinson,” and it was then everybody for himself. I got into the wood where we were formed in the morning, and made for the road. Such a sight as this same road revealed to my view I never expected to behold, and never wish to see again in my life. Men, horses, artillery, baggage wagons, all rushing, clattering, tearing along lest the next would be their last moment. Off I started again through the fields, and came upon a farm house, where hundreds of our troops were endeavoring to get a mouthful of water from a well. I thought we were safe here, and had just got a tin cup full when crack went two or three rifles. The cry of “the cavalry” again arose, and off I started at a rattling pace. I made for another hill (my only safety from cavalry). I plainly saw them on our right striving to cut us off. I overtook our second lieutenant, and told him “to hurry up.” “Wait till I tie my shoe,” said he. “Your shoe be hanged,” said I, and off I went again. He is all right, however, I got into the wood and went astray; it was then and then only that I feared I would not get clear from the hounds in pursuit. I knew that the cavalry could not touch me whilst I remained in the wood, but I feared they would cut me off, or that night would fall before I could make out my whereabout. Fortunately I kept to the right, and struck upon a pathway which I followed, and soon had the satisfaction of getting out on the road a short distance from Centerville, and the same sight presented itself here as that which I had witnessed before. The commissary and sutler’s wagons were upset on the road, and our fellows availed themselves of the opportunity to get a mouthful or two, of which we all stood much in need. The whole road was strewed with belts, haversacks, caps, blankets, etc. Although we might have halted at Centerville if we liked, as several regiments had arrived there to reinforce us, but too late for the fight, a party of the Sixty-ninth, Seventy-ninth, Second, New York Zouaves, Wisconsin, and other regiments, under the leadership of Captain Thos. Francis Meagher and Lieut. Hart of our regiment, continued the retreat all night. Many dropped down on the roadside from sheer exhaustion, and straggled in in twos and threes next day. Lieut. Hart gave me a glass of brandy, which I considered worth a dollar a mouthful. We took the road from Fairfax to Falls Church, and found it blockaded by trees in three different places, one of which was so ingeniously done, that it took us some time to find the road again. We had to walk through a field for some distance. The leaves of the trees that were felled were quite fresh and green, showing that they were not long cut down. We arrived here about five o’clock this morning, after a march of between thirty and forty miles, without scarce anything to eat or drink. The Twenty Eighth Regiment (New York) treated us very kindly. The Colonel came out and ordered his men to prepare all the coffee they could, and gave us all the brandy he had, sending his officers and servants around with it.

I lost my cap in the morning, and came across a washhand basin which done me as well. I looked a picture – my face all blackened with powder and dust, and scratched with brambles and briars, my eyes bloodshot from want of sleep, lame, sore footed, and stiff, a piece of wet linen across my head surmounted by my tin basin, and limping at the rate of a mile an hour when I reached the fort. I had a look at myself in a glass, and was quite enamoured with my figure-head.

Thank God, however, I have got back safe; our regiment was specially favored with his blessing. It is a miracle that we were not cut to pieces, for the enemy’s fire was never off us.

We hold our position, as all the places we have taken from here to Centerville still remain in our possession.

Our Colonel is missing; he was wounded, and is supposed to be captured by the rebels.

Yours, &c.,

Thos. McQuade, Co. F.

P. S. – We expect to be home in a few days.

[We are sincerely sorry to hear that our correspondent has sustained serious damage through a railway accident on his way to this city, and now lies in a very precarious state in hospital in Baltimore. We are unable to relate the particulars; but it is certain that one of his legs was caught between two cars and crushed to atoms. We sincerely rust that he will recover from his injuries. – Ed. Record.]

Metropolitan Record and New York Vindicator, “A Catholic Family Newspaper,” 8/3/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

69th NYSM Roster

Note that there is a second Thomas McQuade listed in the regiment, in Co. C. He later enlisted in the 69th NYVI, and was killed at the Battle of Antietam. Thanks to reader Joseph Maghe for his assistance.





1st Lt Clarke Henry Thompson, Co. G, 7th Virginia Infantry, On the Campaign

26 05 2017

Near Centreville, Fairfax Co.

Friday, August 2, 1861

Dear Aunt:

According to promise, I take this opportunity to write you a few lines. I am in camp near the above named place, and have been ever since last Sunday, at which time our regiment marched here from within on mile from the great and ever memorable battlefield of the 21st. I have thus far been spared from the bullets of the enemy, though subject to their fire in both battles.

I left Culpeper C. H. on the 26th of June, arriving in camp at a place called Wigfall, some two miles from Manassas, stayed there six or seven days, then marched with the regiment (which is called the 7th Va. Regt) to a place called Occoquan, a distance of eighteen miles.

We remained there a week and returned. In some five or seven days after our return we were ordered out to meet the enemy, a distance of about two miles, where we camped on the ground and many of us without blankets. On the next day which was Thursday the 18th, we marched some three or four miles in a different direction where we met the severest volly of musketry from the enemy, who were some thirty yards upon the hill, hidden completely from view. As luck would have it, not many of our regiment were killed or got wounded, but many of the enemy were slain. It was really a sight to find the blankets and clothes and things scattered over the field after their defeat.

You may think strange, but many of our men went upon the field the next morning and got off the dead bodies of the yankees, money, cards, likenesses, and many other little notions, many things no doubt had been stolen from our private citizens upon their route from Washington to the field.

We then stayed in our trenches for two whole days and nights waiting for them to return, but they did not return and they brought up a flag of truce for permission to bury their dead. Instead of acting honorably, they left their dead and wounded and went two miles up the run, where they threw up the most tremendous breast-work against us.

We took up the wounded and had them cared for, and believe me, General Beauregard had the dead buried.

On Saturday we were ordered out of the trenches and marched two miles, where we rested until Sunday morning, when we marched ten and a half miles to meet the enemy again. The battle commenced before seven in the morning and lasted until late in the evening. Our Regt. got upon the field about three o’clock in the afternoon at which time the enemy retreated.

We lost out of our regiment and fifty killed and wounded. They fired upon us very heavily for, I suppose fifteen minutes, we marched after them but not very far, as their retreat was in such haste and confusion that our Cavalry could hardly keep up with them, such a defeat was never known.

They scattered thousands of dollars worth of blankets, oil cloths, hats, coats and shoes. They actually threw away trunks filled with surgical instruments. Besides these there were silk dress patterns, bonnets and underskirts, found marked to to the wives of the men in New York, as trophies gotten from the “Rebels” as they term us. These things were stolen from private individuals in Alexandria and Fairfax C. H. How could a young man, dear Aunt, help volunteering to fight such a mob of heartless wretches as they? They actually killed the stock, burned houses, destroyed furniture of the people as they advanced.

We whipped them very decently, and they went back to the spot from which it took them six months to march, in six hours. They were seen to pass the streets begging the citizens for private clothing, thinking that they could escape, and that we were still after them. They fell in the streets and died of exhaustion. I had the audacity to think last Sunday, that I was not made to be struck by a bullet. It is, I think, the hand of the All-wise One that prevents the balls from striking me, for they whistled around like hail.

All history to a battle is mere fiction to the reality. It is an indescribable sight to see bodies mutilated in every manner in quantities all over the place, and arm here, a head there, a leg in another place. There were many cut up in this way. Some of the bodies actually laid out of the ground for six days. Hundreds of the finest horses were slaughtered upon the enemy side.

We took some 12,000 guns, 71 pieces of cannon, 1000 men and 500 horses.

I had no idea that I could stand what I have, but I can now walk over a dead “Yankee” with as good grace as I would a dog.

I hope that our Country may soon be at peace, but from the present movements of our regiments, I fear not, some four or five have passed down in the last few days. It is thought that we will advance upon Washington in a short time, how true this is I am not able to say, you can hear more news than we. The soldier’s life is not a pleasant one by any means, but when one knows the duty that he owes his Country, he will make any sacrifice. I shall ever consider the service that I have done the most noble act of my life. You will excuse this epistle as I am writing very fast. I will close. Remember me most affectionately to Uncle Albert, Cousin Fountaine and family, and all my relatives and friends.

Your most affectionate nephew,

C. H. Thompson

N. B. Write soon and address your letters to Manassas, in the care of Captain Walden, 7th Va. Regiment.

Library of Virginia

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Contributed by Keith Yoder

Clarke H. Thompson at Fold3