Col. Ezra L. Walrath, 12th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford (1)

29 09 2012

Letter From Col. Walrath.

Arlington Heights, July 28, 1861.

Friend Halsted: – I have waited until this time to write you in relation to the battle at Bull’s Run on the 18th inst. Myself and regiment have been grossly abused by the papers, and I am sorry to say that a certain few in Syracuse are ready and willing to believe the first accounts of the battle as far as relates to my “running from the scene of action and hiding behind a pile of rocks.”

I staid with my regiment all the time, in my place. I did not order a retreat, neither was I mounted, as has been charged. That I was seen “galloping across the field to a safe retreat,” is also false. Lieut. Col. Graham (now Quarter Master) was mounted on a gray horse like my own and was in the rear most of the time, near the reporters and strangers who were looking at the fight from the Hill, about one half a mile from the battle ground. He is still called Colonel, and was taken for me by all that were not personally acquainted with me.  A rifle cannon ball struck under his horse, and he left in double quick time across the field.

As to throwing away our Blankets &c., in the retreat of the Regiments, it is untrue. We went into the fight without Blankets. I ordered every man to lay aside all superfluous clothing in piles on the grass, near the woods, knowing that we could do better service without them than with them. The day after I sent for them and they were all brought into the woods where we lay encamped. – I have demanded a Court of Enquiry, which will show up the facts of the case. What I have done I would do again to-morrow. I feel conscious of having done my duty, and I have only one regret and that is when I ordered the men to rally and they would not in spite of all my exertions. The men were completely exhausted and cried for water continually. My Regiment will probably be mustered out on the 13th, Proximo, as will all regiments mustered in for only three months. Our Regiment had all the old muskets and were in miserable condition; about three in five were in condition for firing. Our cartridges were of different sizes. Some would almost drop in the barrel, while others would require the utmost exertion to get the ball home. The men had no confidence in their pieces, which was one of the reasons they would not rally. They said give us rifles, and we will rally.

While I was at work trying to get those men who retreated to form, those who remained, soon came from their position in good order. I hope soon to have the Court of Enquiry, which will bring forth facts that I dare not at this time mention, as it would impeach the ability and judgement of some of the superior officers in command of the army. I shall try to find time to-morrow to draw a sketch of the Battle Ground, and to send a statement of the whole affair from beginning to end, and I guarantee the officers and men will endorse the whole of it.

Give my regards to all my friends and say to them they have no cause to censure your humble servant, until they can bring proof to substantiate the foul charges that have been made against me and the Regiment.

Yours Truly,

E. L. Walrath.

Colonel 12th N. Y. Volunteers

Syracuse Daily Courier and Union, 7/31/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy





Lt. Charles Minor Blackford, Wise Troop, On Blackburn’s Ford

26 08 2012

Bristow, July 19th, 1861

Well, I suppose you are delighted to see my handwriting in ink once more, something I like myself. Now for my adventures.

On Wednesday evening I was still flat on my back at Mr. Meachen’s quite sick. I was summoned in great haste, put into a wagon and rushed off with the troop to Bull Run, at a place called Stone Bridge Ford, the enemy being on the advance from towards Fairfax Courthouse in overwhelming numbers.  The whole of Cocke’s brigade took the same position, and we were tolerably well established by night but I had to sleep on the ground, which was not good for a sick man. I was sent by the surgeon, the next day, to this place in an ambulance, for I could not sit on my horse. This is a quiet hotel where are boarding some nice people; amongst them was Mrs. Hyde and her pretty, attractive niece Constance Cary who had come out of Alexandria when the yankees occupied it.

When the troops fell back it was done by preconcerted plan, and done without firing a gun. The enemy advanced, they thought, to certain victory but they were vastly mistaken. You must know that parallel to the Manassas Gap Railroad runs a stream to towards the Potomac called Bull Run, along which our army was placed in three positions. The center was at Mitchell’s Ford which is the ford where the road to Manassas from Centreville crosses the run; the right wing was down at a ford near where the railroad crosses the same run, and the left wing was under the command of Colonel Cocke, near the stone bridge, which is the bridge over which the pike from Warrington to Washington passes. General Beauregard commands the center in person – who commands the right wing I do not know. From Manassas to Mitchell’s Ford is three miles, from Centreville to the Ford is four miles. The Federal headquarters are at Centreville. It is about four miles from Manassas to our right wing. I think they call it Blackburn’s Ford. From Manassas to the stone bridge is six miles. Most of our troops are on the right and on the center. I have no idea of how many we have. I only know of Cocke’s brigade on the left, with which my command is operating under his orders.

About nine o’clock yesterday morning the enemy commenced an attack on Mitchell’s Ford and repeated it several times. Our position there is a strong one. All of our men behaved nobly. The Virginians stood with the coolness of veterans, yet fought with the fury of tigers in the charge. Our loss, however, was very small. I learn that no member of the Home Guard was killed, wounded or missing. Major Carter Harrison, your cousin and mine, I hear was killed. You can imagine my suspense while lying helpless in Manassas and hearing the battle raging within three miles.

The thunder of guns woke me up from a troubled sleep and at first I thought it was a morning thunder shower but as I became more awake, and heard the people in the house calling to each other I realized what had happened; the battle was commencing. I tried to spring out of bed but my first movement showed me I was still in no condition to join my company so all I could do was lay back, trying from the dim sounds to visualize what was going on at the front. Below me in the road I could hear the mustering of forage details that were in the rear, the jangle and rattle of an artillery company going up at a gallop, ammunition wagons creaking as the driver prodded their horses to greater effort. Now and then the hooves of a courier went past while news and rumors were relayed up from the front of the house to the upper floors by excited shouts. I strained my ears to every word. In the next room I could hear a woman praying, between sobs, for her husband. When John Scott came up i scanned his face, it was as stolid and unmoved by the battle as by any routine maneuver. “What is happening, how is the battle going?” I asked anxiously. “Them yankees ain’t doin’ nuthin,” he answered unmoved by the excitement. “Them yankees are just marchin’ up and bein’ shot to Hell.” John Scott was too much of an old warrior not to be able to sort out the facts from the many rumors that were flying about and I felt easier, especially when I discovered the fighting was going on well away from our position in the lines. As th excitement outside and in the house calmed down, the sound of the fighting remained unchanged and soothed by John Scott’s unemotional reports I was able to relax and sleep.

Fortunately Cocke’s brigade was not engaged yesterday and there is no fighting anywhere on the line today. I expect to join them before my company is engaged.

Blackford, S. L., Blackford, C. M.,  Blackford, C. M.  III, Letters from Lee’s Army or Memoirs of Life In and Out of The Army in Virginia During the War Between the States, pp. 24-26.





Captain William King, Camp Pickens Battery, On Blackburn’s Ford

20 04 2012

[Naval Batteries at Manassas Junction] 

7/18/1861 

[To his wife Annie K. Leftwich King]

My dear little Nannie: 

It is eight o’clock at Night and after standing at the Post Office for nearly an hour awaiting the opening of  detained mail to get a letter from you I learned that it would not be ready for delivery under two hours & determined to come home & write to you at once with nothing to communicate save the fact that about four thousand of our troops were attacked this morning at eight o’clock by a large Yankee force estimated at from 20,000 to 40,000 at Bulls Run which is quite a large fordable Creek three & a half miles from this place – Our men repulsed them three times during the day & now both forces are camped within about a mile & a half of each other – All I can gather is not satisfactorily definite to me but leads me to believe that our loss in killed & wounded does not exceed 75 & it is thought that the loss of the enemy will reach from 150 to 300 men in killed & wounded – We took some 15 or 20 prisoners who with our wounded are in this camp to night. 

Bulls Run is almost a second Saragossa in topography with our troops stationed here & there on this side of it for several miles – I suppose we will have daily engagements for several days & if at last the enemy does crop all that is necessary for their demolition will be for our forces to fall back to this place where we are ready to meet & whip (in my humble opinion) 100,000 of them – The troops were all ordered forward this morning from here except one regiment & the men connected with the Batteries – My men & I were all day in readiness at my Battery that commands the Centreville road, on which the fight occurred & we could distinctly see the flash, & smoke & hear the roar of Artillery – John Williams has volunteered to fight in my detachment & could scarcely be held at his post when the fight was progressing in our view – Our Army here is confident of ultimate complete victory & Richmond ought to be willing to trust it rather than suffer from the consternation that I hear prevails there 

I understand that Col Moon of Richmond is slightly wounded & that one Captain of the New Orleans Artillery was killed – All the Lynchburg boys were present at the fight except Lathams Battery which is stationed with Genl Cocke four or five miles above on Bulls Run – I have not heard that any of them were either killed or wounded – 

Please don’t make statements from this as coming from me for the reason that I have not taken the pains to gather full & correct details – 

Give my love to all my friends & connexions & write as often as you can to my address as of the Naval Batteries at Manassas Junction 

Your own 

Choctaw 

MSS 6682, Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, as transcribed at 150 Years Ago Today. Used with permission.

William King in Ancestry.com





Pvt. Hiram M. Cash, Co. H., 5th Maine, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford

19 04 2012

Washington, DC

7/18/1861

Mrs. Mary H. Cash

East Raymond,

Maine

Dear parents and friends

I received your letter with a beauquet in it in due time and was very glad to hear from you and also glad to hear that you was all well and getting along well. When I wrote to you last I believe I told you we were preparing to march. we took up our line of march the next day with three days provisions the first day we marched till 10 o clock at night we were intending to cast off the retreet from fairfacts court house with 13,000 troops we stoped the rest of the night and slept on the ground In the morning we started before sunrise to march when got to the place we were about 3 hours to late to stop the rebels. they have retreeted before us as fast as our troops come in sight we have taken a few prisoners that the rebels left on picket guard they fell trees across the road to stop us but we were not delayed much on account of it. We have now completed our three days journey and have arrived within 5 miles of Manassas Junction. We had a sad accident happen on our journey there was one man shot himself in our regt about noon the 2end day and one towards night one of them was from Co. H. His name is William McSellen from casco you all know him he went to knock an apple off from a tree with the but end of his gun and it caught in the limbs and went off taken effect in the left thy and broke the bone all to pieces and he lived about 3 hours and died, and was buried the next day under arms they fired three volleys over the grave the other man was from Lewiston I do not know his name he was shot through the side and died in a moment I did not see him buried. We all seem to be enjoying good health better than we did at Washington. Genl. Scott said yesterday that he thought we should be on our way home in 8 weeks if not before we have not had a chance to fight the rebels one division yet but the right has had a little fighting to do they have gained every battle bout one they engaged the rebels at Manassas junction with only 3 regts and got badly whipt Scott has arrested the commander because he went contrary to orders in making the attack Scott says we can take the place without the loss of a man if we are carefill and obey him. the weather here is comfortable not to hot nor to cold in the day time but we have cold nights we have about 100,000 troops here and more are coming on the way here they have proclaimed strict law in the army and we have to go straight

no more to write at present

Hiram M. Cash

Ancestry.com link

MSS 12916, Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, as transcribed at 150 Years Ago Today. Used with permission.





The Washington Artillery at Blackburn’s Ford

14 10 2011

The Battle at Bull Run.
Special Correspondence of The Delta.
Richmond July 20th; 1861.

The battle of Bull Run was fought day before yesterday, and our Artillery were engaged from 2, O’clock in the afternoon until 5, P. M. At half past four Captain Eschelman was wounded in the lower portion of the calf of the leg. A musket ball passed through the muscle, making a very ragged wound, and was up to last night very painful, attended with some fever. To-day, 12, M. I have just left him, and he said he had been since daybreak comparatively free from pain, and felt quite well. He will soon recover, and it is hoped will suffer but little from this time.

He is very well situated, at Dr. Deane’s residence, having been brought here last evening, with all the Artillery men that were wounded.

Muse, of Muse Bros., who died last night, was struck near the shoulder. Henry H. Baker has a ball in the calf of the leg. A young man, whose brother is a partner of Hagerty & Bros., had a ball through the flesh of the thigh, and one other a cut in the face. All are doing well and will recover very soon.

Walton, Slocomb, and two companies of the command were stationed three miles off, where it was supposed the enemy would make the attack, and saw nothing of the fight, and consequently were all safe. Captain Garnett, of this State, and Captain Eschelman wee in command of the seven guns we had in service, and raked the enemy down like grass, especially at the  first fire; knocked one of Sherman’s guns into fragments, and sent some four shot directly into their solid advanced column, driving limbs and bodies sky high. Sherman’s great battery at 5, O’clock was silenced, and commenced their retreat. Our boys gave them a parting shot and then a tremendous yell which finished the fight.

None of the Artillery men were hurt until just before the battle ended, ,so that all had a fair chance that commenced the fight to show indomitable courage and coolness. The enemy had engaged in the battle from 5,000 to 6,000 men and we had 3,000. Our wounded and dead 60, theirs over 500. Drs. Drew, Choppin, Beard, and several others from the different regiments, were on the ground. Beauregard commanded in person on the field, being mounted, of course.

The Daily Delta, 7/27/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 111, pp. 46-47.





“DeW”, 1st Rhode Island Infantry, On the March to Manassas

28 09 2011

Correspondence of the Journal
On the Way to Manassas
Four Miles West of Fairfax
Friday, July 19, 1861

Corresponding under difficulties certainly, with a cartridge box for a table, and forty-five drops of ink, all in the country, the drum likely to beat at any moment for an advance.

Tuesday at 1 p. m. we left Camp Sprague, marched through the city over the Long Bridge. I have no time to tell you of our fine appearance, or the enthusiasm which greeted our march. We went about 12 miles, and camped in a large field near Annandale, where we were presently joined by our old friends, the 71st New York and the 2d New Hampshire, the whole constituting Burnside’s brigade of the 2d division, commanded by Col. Hunter of the regular cavalry. Next morning the column advanced, led by the 2d Rhode Island, who acted as skirmishers, scouring the woods for half a mile each side of the road. About three miles from Fairfax Court House we came upon the first barricade, consisting of large trees felled across the road for the distance of one hundred yards. Our axemen were ordered to the front, and soon removed the obstruction. We found two similar ones before reaching the town, but they were easily surmounted. Near the town was an earthwork, recently occupied by a battery of light artillery, which had been hurriedly removed. Behind it, at some distance from the road, were three camps. Paymaster Sisson, who was detailed with a party of carbineers to visit them, found much valuable booty, swords, pistols, muskets, clothing, and provisions of every sort. Their flight had evidently been most hurried. Indeed, our advance saw a small party at a distance making off as they entered the fort.

We immediately pushed forward, and entered the town without opposition. A secession flag flying from the top of the Court House was torn down in a twinkling and the stars and stripes substituted, followed by a violent ringing of the bell.

The troops were quartered about the town, and the stores and houses whence the secession owners had fled were thoroughly ransacked. Quantities of camp equipage and hospital stores, mostly marked “South Carolina,” were found, – sabres and guns of the most fantastic and obsolete description. But it would be perfectly useless to attempt a description of the heterogeneous assortment of plunder with which every man who took the trouble to forage was adorned. To judge from the uniforms about the camp, we would seem to have many of the Palmetto Guard and other crack secession regiments in our midst. Articles of the most cumbrous and useless description were taken, only to be dropped by the way.

Later in the day sentinels were posted in front of all the houses, and the “loot” was confined to the rebels camps.

Our companies bivouacked in the yards and lanes about town. Yesterday morning we moved one mile west and remained till 4 p. m., after which we advanced to this point. On the way we found pots and kettles and all sorts of camp furniture, cast away by the rebels in their flight. They found time, though, to burn one or two houses on the way. On reaching here we learned that Gen. Tyler’s division had suddenly come up on a masked battery which poured in a destructive fire of shot and shell, causing our men to retire. Many were killed and wounded, but you have much better information on the subject than we have. It is reported this morning that the enemy have retired from the battery. We expect to advance upon the Junction shortly. As I write, 12 secession prisoners, one of them a sergeant, are passing, guarded by a double file of soldiers. They are sturdy fellows. Some look defiant some downcast. I understand the Fire Zouaves took them. Sherman’s Battery, the Massachusetts 1st and New York 12th took part in the engagement yesterday. I do not mention any of the thousand rumors afloat respecting the loss yesterday, or the next movement to be made, because no accurate information can be obtained, by me at least. One thing is certain, Manassas must be ours, and the Rhode Island men expect to do their part in its reduction. That done, we will return content. I have been talking with the Quartermaster of the Massachusetts 1st. He thinks about 50 of his brigade are killed. A negro, escaped from the rebel camp this morning, reports dreadful slaughter done by Sherman’s battery.

DeW.

Providence Journal 7/22/1861

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Pvt. William Ray Wells, Co. I, 12th NY, on Action at Blackburn’s Ford (2)

7 08 2011

July 23 1861

Washington Cap. Building

Tuesday.

Dear Friends,

I am seated in the Capital building where congress sits at one of their desks (Henry C. Burnett is the name on the desk in front of me, using his pen and ink. I got my letter and envelope a little to my left in the P.O., Free. I have just had my likeness taken and enclosed in an envelope and sent to you. I took it into the post office here where I got my paper, &c. and had the P.M. send it for me. We started from Chain Bridge Tuesday the 16 and camped at Vienna the first night. One Co. all went on picket guard the first night. They made relieves of us part on two hours and then rest 4. When the first part were on two hours another 2nd relief part took their place and staid 2 hours then the 3 relief went on and staid 2 hours. The 2nd night we camped at Centreville and in the afternoon of the next day (Thursday) we were marching along when we heard firing ahead (there was one reg. ahead of us and two behind us. we all comprised Gen. Ritchardsons Brigade. We also had one Battery with us. When the cannon commenced firing ahead of us, they had all along been ahead, we formed into Battle line by the side of the road. We staid there but a few minutes when we (our reg.) was ordered on in advance of the Battery. After we had got by the Battery (they were on a rise of ground) in going down the hill in front of them we had open ground (meadow) and at the foot and all along after that beyond were roads. I will show you nearly so that I think you can form some idea how our reg. stood. The battery lay a little off to our right. [see drawing] There were pine under brush (very thick) ahead of us and as we had marched into them about 1 or 2 [rods?] ahead not thinking of [danger?] quite so near. The bushes seemed to be alive with the rebels (judging from their firing for we never saw one of them at any time we were there) their first volley was the most murderous to us. As soon as we were aware that we had run on to a mashed Battery (that is after their first fire we all fell and loaded on our backs. Then turned over and fired and kept doing so untill we were ordered to cease firing by our Capt. We fired about 9 and 10 rounds after our 6th round our guns were so hot we could not lay a finger on the barrel any where. One of our boys said he fired 12 rounds and in putting the 12th in the barrel it went off as soon as he had turned in the powder. Some way or other our two Co.s on the right and part of the 3rd. Co. got separated from the rest of the reg. so that Capt. Barnum had to take charge of us (our Col. was no where to be seen) he might have been with the rest of the reg. and he might not. Capt. Barnum stood in front of us and swung his sword and cheered us on untill he heard a N.S. Officer say who stood in our rear that our Col. had ordered us to retire. We then done so (by our Capt.s command) we retreated in order (what there was left us) about 10 rods when we halted and sent back part of us to bring of the dead and wounded. There was one man shot (my right hand man the only one shot in our Co.) whom we did not find. As soon as I saw him fall my blood was up and I did not care what I done (he fell at the first fire) the Capt. had to order me back. I was so far in advance of our Co. yesterday we all came back here to Wash. Our reg. could not get across the river and they waited a little while. While they were waiting I went out one side and laid down and went to sleep. When I woke up the reg. had left and I have not found where they are yet. I have found once in a while some of our reg. who have got strayed away from the reg. and that is all. When I woke up I enquired of some one standing around there if he knew where our reg. had gone and he said they had gone over the river into Washington. I then came to the gaurd one that was gaurding the bridge and asked him and he also said they had. I then came across (it was raining all this time) and put up in a hotell just in this end of the bridge. There is a Co. quartered there. I slept on the bare floor with nothing for a pillow and was very glad to get even a shelter for my head. Today I have heard that our reg. were at Arlington Heights. That is on the other side and up the river 7 miles. I think of taking a start (John Wells is with me) and go there as soon as I finish this letter. It is now 5 o’clock and I shall have to close if I go there to night. It cleared of this morning quite pleasant, but I must close.

Your affectionate son,

Ray.

I read a letter from Mary while on the battle field. I have not heard from any of the rest of you since the 5th your letter was dated. I have plenty writing papers on hand. Do not send any more.

Transcription and Letter Image

By the narrative it appears that Wells is describing again the engagement at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18, as he did in this letter.








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