Sgt. Abraham Ford, Co. H, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Battle

12 05 2020

From the Second Vermont Regiment.

Alexandria, Va., July 23, 1861.

Dear Sir – * * * * When the head of our column came up to theirs, they opened on us with their artillery. We had then marched fifteen miles, were all out of breath, had no breakfast except hard crackers which we eat on the march, had drank nothing but muddy water, and the last two miles of our march we had made on the “double-quick;” but notwithstanding all that, we went into them, and drove them back to their stronghold. There they drew on us and gave us the best whipping an army ever had. But we fought until we were ordered to retreat, and then came bitter disappointment to crown a day of severe fighting, hard labor and dreadful misery. – They followed us up with artillery and cavalry in the rear, while they sent a force around to cut off our retreat where we had to cross a bridge; but they did not cut us up very badly there, for we took to the woods. We could not return fire, for we had no ammunition.

The number of killed and wounded is not known, for we had to leave them all, poor fellows. Only two of them, in a shed that I stopped in on our retreat, had their wounds dressed. I think there must have been fifty in that shed, and they were only a small portion of what were on the field. – Our Orderly Sergeant [of the Fletcher Company] had his arm shot through. I took him off the field and helped our surgeon perform the amputation; and just as we had got through and got it done’up the order came to retreat to our old quarter; but when we got there we found no place would be safe for us short of Alexandria, and so we kept on; and a longer road, for one that had no more miles in it, I think I never saw. We arrived here about 11 o’clock on Monday forenoon, making about thirty-six hours that we were under arms, marching in the time at least fifty miles, and fighting severely about half an hour. When I say this, I mean the Vermont regiment; you will see by the papers how long the fight lasted, from 7 A. M. to 4 P. M., I think.

When we arrived here we were tired, hungry and wet; our feet were blistered and bleeding. – All the wounded came on that were able. To-day we are all sore and lame; not a man of us can walk without limping.

We expect the wounded that we left are all murdered; for we showed a flag of truce on the field, and they fired into it. I nailed a white flag on the door of the shed where some of the wounded were, and left with our orderly two canteens of water, a filter to drink through and some hard crackers – all I had. Then I had to leave or be taken prisoner. The poor fellow begged of me to get a team and take him along, but that was impossible. I had to leave him to the mercy of a southern chivalry. I have heard since that the building was blown to pieces by their artillery and the wounded all killed.

Our Surgeon lost all his instruments and had to run for dear life. I could write a whole week of incidents which came under my observation, but I am tired and weak, and must close. More anon.

Yours Truly,
Abraham Ford.

The above letter inclosed a photograph of Col. Ellsworth, which the author found near the body of a fire Zouave who had been killed in the battle. It was taken in New York, by J. Gurney & Son, as their card is on the back of it.

Walton’s Daily Journal (Montpelier, VT), 7/23/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Abraham Ford at Ancestry.com 

Abraham Ford at Fold3 





11th New York Fire Zouaves Artifacts at Ft. Ward Museum

8 05 2014

Friend Ron Baumgarten of All Not So Quiet Along the Potomac has forwarded a few images Fire Zouave ephemera he recorded at the Ft. Ward Museum in Alexandria, VA. You can check out more on the story of Elmer Ellsworth, James Jackson, and Francis Brownell here. Enjoy! (Click on the photos for larger images – click those images for great big giant huge ones)

 

Elmer Ellsworth's Kepi

Elmer Ellsworth’s Kepi

11th NY Drum

11th NY Drum

11th NY Drum Placard

11th NY Drum Placard

Marshall House Incident

Marshall House Flag Raising

Commemorative Vase

Commemorative Vase

Lettering From Marshall House

Lettering From Marshall House

Marshall House Lettering Placard

Marshall House Lettering Placard

Remnant of Marshall House First National Flag

Remnant of Marshall House First National Flag

Flag Remnant Placard

Flag Remnant Placard

Boyhood Chair of the "Hero" James Jackson

Boyhood Chair of the “Hero” James Jackson

 





Marshall House Flag

20 09 2013

And reader Terry Yount sends this photo of Ellsworth’s grave site in Hudson View Cemetery, Mechanicville, NY.

photo





Ellsworth Artifacts on Display

23 05 2011

NY State Military Museum highlights artifacts of 1st Union officer killed in Civil War. Check it out here.





Family Ties – Kilpatrick Part V

15 10 2008

Here’s an update to the Kilpatrick Family Ties series.  I found this site the other day, which has confirmed some of the information I already had and also alerted me to a few other tidbits.  To quote the Dude: Lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, lotta strands to keep in my head, man.

You’ll notice some stuff that expands a bit on Part II and Part III.  I found it really interesting that Kilpatrick granddaughter Consuelo Morgan’s husband Benjamin’s father, Benjamin Thaw, Sr, Harry K.’s half brother, was married to a woman named Elma Ellsworth Dows, born in October, 1861.  Elmer Ellsworth, the first Colonel of the 11th NY Fire Zouaves, was one of the war’s first martyrs (see here), and there was a multitude of babies born across the North in following years named for him.  This is the first time I’ve run across what appears to be a female namesake!

You’ll also see that Consuelo is buried in the Thaw plot in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery.  I didn’t notice her grave when I made my trek there (see here), and didn’t think to look for her because she remarried after the death of Benjamin Thaw, Jr.  It turns out that she is buried not far from her other grandfather, Philip Hicky Morgan.  I guess I need to go back there.

The site has lots of interesting stuff about the Thaws that I didn’t know – though you can probably fill a thimble with the stuff I do know about them.  For instance, the family supplied two aviators to the American forces in WWI, one of whom died in action.  It seems a shame they’re remembered almost exclusively for nutcase Harry Kendall Thaw – of Pittsburgh.





Fire Zouaves: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

20 07 2008

I recently purchased Bleeding Blue and Gray: Civil War Surgery and the Evolution of American Medicine by Ira M. Rutkow (2005).  On page 12:

Poised at the foot of Henry House Hill, the Eleventh New York Infantry, best known as the First Fire Zouaves, may never have seen Johnston’s troops as they gathered at the ridge’s crest, but Johnston’s men could not miss the Yankees.  Advancing up the slope, the 950 or so Northerners were a colorful lot.  Sporting dark blue waistcoats accented in red and gold trim, bright red blouses, flowing crimson bloomers with blue piping and white spats, all capped off by a red fez, these warriors were the height of mid-nineteenth-century military haute couture.

Double Yoi.  I’d tell you what Rutkow’s source for this description is, but he neglected to note it.

I know, I go on and on about the uniform of the 11th NY Fire Zouaves at Bull Run, including herehere, here, and here.  To recap, despite numerous, even eyewitness accounts to the contrary, the regiment’s enlisted men did not wear red pants during the battle.  In fact, at no time were red pants ever a part of their uniform, though officers wore red pants of the chasseur pattern.  But don’t take my word for it:

Above is a photo of the 11th NY Zouave uniform of Private Francis E. Brownell of Company A, on display at Manassas National Battlefield (thanks to Jim Burgess at the park).  Notice the color (gray-blue), the name of Brownell’s New York fire company on his belt, and his red fireman’s jersey.  This is the same uniform Brownell was wearing on May 23rd, 1861, when he accompanied his colonel Elmer Ellsworth into Alexandria’s Marshall House hotel to pull down a secession banner flying from the building and visible through a glass from the White House.  As Ellsworth descended the stairs with the flag he was killed by a shotgun blast fired by the hotel’s proprietor, James Jackson.  Brownell, who was with Ellsworth, quickly shot Jackson in the face, then drove his saber bayonet through his body.

Ellsworth became a dead hero in the North, mourned by his friend Abraham Lincoln.  Jackson received similar posthumous honors in the south.  Brownell became a living celebrity, whose photo, complete with Ellsworth’s blood stained banner, became a popular item.

Brownell left the unit before First Bull Run, accepting a commission in the 11th US Infantry, and in 1877 he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his action at the Marshall House.  You’ll find his death notice here.

As you can read on this great website on the 11th, the regiment’s worn-out, gray-blue Zouave uniforms were grudgingly exchanged for standard union blue jackets and pants before First Manassas.  Many men continued to wear their distinctive red firemen’s shirts, and some may have worn red fezes, though the official uniform headgear as seen with Brownell was a kepi with company insignia and “1Z” for First Zouaves.  I think this image of the regiment fighting alongside the 69th New York Militia probably gives a good idea of what they looked like on the field at First Bull Run.

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