Surgeon David Little, 13th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

17 11 2021

A Letter from the Battle-Field.

The following letter from our late townsman, Dr. Little, Surgeon of the 13 Regiment New York Volunteers, will be read with the deepest interest. It was hastily written, immediately after his return from the horrors and dangers it describes, and was intended for his family alone, but at the request of several of their friends, it is given to the public, as it is of great public interest. To our readers, who known the writer, noting could be more authentic and conclusive as to the facts stated, as to the courage and power of our soldiers on the battle field, and as to the uncivilized and savage character of the enemy. On our side we see our young surgeon attending to their wounded, and soothing them by kind words, and on their side our wounded, and even our surgeons bayonetted, and our hospitals fired.

The horrible picture this letter presents of carnage and death, can have only one effect on the outraged and indignant sentiment of our people, – it must tend to arouse all, as one man, against an enemy which has brought such woe and disgrace on our beloved country, We have had that – our day of humiliation, – other days like it may be impending but the fearful retribution must come. From such testimony as this letter, we realize that we are in bloody, barbarous war. We had hoped, we had believed, we had prayed, that this scourge might never visit our dear land, but it is on us. We cannot obey our impulse and instinct to shrink from it in disgust. – We are all of us called upon to take part in hellish war. The memory of the bloody rout of that Sunday must be washed out in blood. We must not shut our eyes to this dread necessity. The cup is forced to our lips. The maxims of peace, of humanity, of civilization, which we have so long cherished, are of no avail now. The even seem to be in our way and a hindrance to us. The cannon balls which shrieked around David Little’s head, as exhausted he slept during the battle, are now our only resort. We have but one duty now – that to our country, which has made us all we are. We can serve here only in one way – by helping on the war. Our women weep over these calamities; our men must help retrieve them. The sight of young David Little drinking ditch water, and fainting on the heroic retreat, appeal to all others to do their part likewise in these days of sorrow.

As we are permitted to give to the public this private letter in which the writer speaks of his exhaustion and fainting, but modestly forbears, even to his mother, to dwell on the hardships he endured, it is due to him that it should be accompanied by the statement of one fact well known to all his associated. Among the athletic young men of this town, he has a reputation for his great powers of endurance. He was a hunter. Wiry, hardy, and muscular, he has no superiors in a tramp, and some of the young friends who have heard this letter read, have remarked that if he fainted, it is no wonder so few of his regiment were left.

M.

Ft. Bennett, near Washington,
July 24, 1861.

Dear Mother: – My mind is so confused with the scenes I have gone through the last week, that it is doubtful if I shall be able to write anything connectedly. I certainly can not give anything like a detailed account of what happened to me. The general account of our disaster you will have learned before this by the papers. One general observation I will hazard though, that is, that superior numbers, and fighting on their own ground from behind masked batteries, won the battle for the enemy. Their boasted superiority in pluck is all nosir. I saw with my own eyes, our 13th drive twice their number, like a flock of sheep before them. I saw the Ellsworth Fire Zouaves doing the same thing. – Afterwards, when reinforcements to the enemy came up, the retreat was inevitable, again and again were their cavalry repulsed by a handful of determined northerners. But then a panic came, and oh, such a scene. It defies description. Such a confused mass of men, horses, cannon, and vehicles of every description, jamming and crowding into each other in precipitate flight, and all the while grape and shells falling into its midst, while the chasing cavalry murdered all the stragglers, yes, and all wounded men! Oh, talk of Southern nobility. I shall never hear it named again without sickening disgust. Yes, they murdered our wounded – bayoneted our surgeons, and shelled and burned the hospital where our wounded were taken, while the hospital flag was flying in full view! They seemed to be filled with devilish hatred. – The fight waged from 7 o’clock in the morning until 5 ½ in the evening, when the flight commenced. The first part of the day, until reinforcements came up, was all against the enemy. For they were driven from one strong hold to another.

But I am filling up my sheet with what you have already from the papers. Now I am going to write my own little history just for your private pleasure and interest.

On Saturday last, word came from headquarters to our camp, that we must be ready to march at 2 o’clock Sunday morning. – This we did, thought the command was not given to march until 3 o’clock. Then we started with the purpose of out-flanking and taking two masked batteries. I mounted and rode “Kittie,” who, by-the-way, behaved splendidly under fire. Then when the battle began, we Doctors took a place in the rear of the column. For a long while the fighting was limited to unimportant skirmishing, and all that time I lay in the woods (it was a beautiful day) asleep and dreaming on you all at home. Waking, I heard close to me the barking of a squirrel. That seemed like a friend, and with the dream, made me for a time just the least bit home-sick. – The increasing fire, and the whirling of balls, soon cured me though, by making me forget my disease. After this, ie. 10 o’clock a. m., I was busy every moment, until the flight, dressing wounds. Then when the flight came, I looked from my ambulances and horse – they were all gone! Then I was indeed in a fix. The ambulances in which our wounded were to be carried, in which lay my blankets, bedding, dress uniform, surgical appliances and sword, my horse, “Kittie,” whose back I had come to think belonged exclusively to me, with my little other luggage and haversack of provisions, all gone, and poor, tired, hungry, thirsty me, left to walk in a hot sun a distance of thirty miles. It was hard, and I was inclined to be a good deal angry, but remembering that this would do no good, and thinking how much better off than many other poor fellow I was, I got into better spirits and started off with the remaining of our little regiment, some of whom were killed, some wounded, and many scattered, so that a mere handful remained together as we left the field. Our regiment, by-the-by, was the last to leave the field, and was the only one that could be made to rally to the support and protection of the retreating column. Once in particular, I remember, when a little band, we stood out in a field to resist cavalry, and saw all out own troops leaving us behind, while the enemy was hurrying upon us, and I thought it was wicked to keep us there. Again orders came for us to march on, and as you may imagine, we did so, in double quick-time too. How hungry and thirsty I was. Puddles in the road were eagerly swallowed. I drank water that 10,000 men and horses must have marched through, and so muddy that it was fairly thick. No sooner was it down than my dry throat craved more. We marched this eight miles, and just began to think we were at length out of the enemies’ reach, when crash came a bomb-shell in our midst. They had out-marched is and posted a battery just where they could rake us to great advantage. I think I came nearest to being killed just there. It was by a bridge on “Cub Run.” The bridge was blocked over with overturned vehicles and we had to wade waist-deep across the stream; just as I was ascending the hill on this sire, I heard a bomb come screaming through the air. I had just time to drop flat on the ground, when it passed over me, and struck about four feet in advance and bursted, instantly killing two poor fellows who were farther from it than I was, but who neglected the precaution of throwing themselves down. All the harm I received was being almost buried in dirt, Three miles from there we rested, about half an hour, when it was decided to hasten back Arlington, as it was learned that the enemy were endeavoring to head us off and take us prisoners – this was about 10 ½ o’clock in the evening – 21 miles to walk for us who had been at work since 3 o’clock in the morning. I started, and carried a wounded man’s gun. How the steps did drag, and how hunger knawed – finally, about 6 miles back, I fell down, fainting. The next thing I remember was swallowing some milk that a woman brought me. The enjoyment of drinking that milk exceeded anything I ever experienced before in the eating line. They put me into a lumber wagon and sent me here – and now after two days rest, I feel pretty well, excepting a little soarness left.

I should have telegraphed you at once, but not an officer or soldier was allowed to cross the river to Washington. I learn, however, that Henry Benjamin sent a dispatch to Rochester, to the effect that no officer was injured, and hope you may have seen it. – Our regiment is in a pitiable condition, and almost to a man those who are here are sick from fatigue and exposure. The disaster to Government is fearful, and it must take a long time to repair it. It must and will be done though, and terrible will be the retributions to the South. But I have said enough. Prospects are better again for me to see you this summer. * * I dressed many a poor fallen Southerner’s wounds, and found them to be generally grateful, and they seemed fairly astonished when I told them the North had no hatred towards the South – that it was a war to protect the Government and not of depredations on the South. We have a Lieutenant prisoner. He told me that the Washington artillery were there. – I can give them credit for one thing, that is, they are all splendid marksmen. Their balls had terrible effect. The prisoner said, one of our regiments, with their rifles, were a terror to them – that whenever they raised to fire they knew many must fall. This he told to our Brigadier General. * * * *

Affectionately yours,
DAVID LITTLE

Cherry Valley (NY) Gazette, 7/31/1861

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Roster of 13th New York Infantry





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 





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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27th New York Infantry roster 

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Pvt. Henry W. Link, Co. E, 11th New York Infantry, On the Battle

12 06 2020

The Zouaves in Battle.
—————

We are kindly permitted to publish the following letter from a well known member of the Fire Zouaves to his father in this village:

New York, July 30, 1861.

Dear Father,
You will be as much surprised at knowing I am in N. Y. as mother was when I rushed in upon her. I wish I had time to run up, and see you, but it is impossible as my absence would be noticed if I remain away over a certain time. In the confusion many of us took the opportunity to run home a day, before reporting ourselves at headquarters, knowing our services would not be wanted immediately, for I tell you, although the papers talk so much of our defeat, the secessionists got as much fight as they can bear for a time to come, and if they dare to attack us at Washington you will hear of such a fight as you have never heard of – ours was bad enough.

The papers gave you a better description of the battle than I could, but I can tell you my feelings: One has no thought of danger and death while fighting. It is load, aim and fire with a “take that” every time you fire. We had made three attacks capturing a battery, but we had no support, or not enough, or we never would have been driven back while a man of us could stand. The sixty ninth fought with us like tigers, and the 1st Rhode Islanders. Had other field officers been like the gallant courageous men that led us we would not talk of defeat now. No, it would be victory, victory which shall be the word next time. Well, we were driven back and then comes scenes that make the heart sick, crawling, limping, running over dead and dying, wounded men and horses, upset wagons, broken down carriages, muskets, arms of all kinds, knapsacks, clothing that the men pulled off and threw away – such a sight! It is impossible to describe it. I carried every thing back with me, besides a bayonet, and two pistols that I took from a rebel soldier on the field, and our Col’s. cap, which I picked up and wore back as proudly as though I was the Col. myself. My coming back to the boys with his cap made a good deal of fun for them, but we lost so many of our brave comrads that I can assure you there was real grief among us. I helped two of our boys carry our surgeon nearly two miles to the first hospital, and when within a short distance the enemy pressed us so close he begged us to drop him and save ourselves. At that moment one of their shells hit the old building used as a hospital, and full of our poor soldiers, and blew it to pieces. Many died from fatigue on the way before they got back to Washington. Curse the dishonest, avaricious politicians that run the Union! One thing I can tell them they can appoint as many commanders as they please, the men are not going to battle again unless they themselves are satisfied with their leaders.

I should never stop writing if I attempted to relate all I saw and experienced. I shall save it until I get back from the war and we meet peace restored by the union of the United States. God grant this may be the result, yet I can tell you we will have to fight for it; the Southerners can fight as well as we. It is no use to underrate the. This is one reason of our late defeat.

I must close. With much love and respect,

I am your Son,
H. M. Link

Herkimer County (NY) Journal, 8/8/1861

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11th New York Infantry roster

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Hospital Steward Daniel W. Bosley, Co. E, 27th New York Infantry, On the Battle

12 06 2020

From the Twenty-Seventh.
———-

Mr. Daniel W. Bosley, of the 27th Regiment, Company E, who was employed assisting the Surgeons during the engagement between Bull’s Run and Manassas, writes to a friend as follows:

Washington, July 25th, 1861.

I received your welcome letter on Tuesday, the second day after the battle of Bull’s Run, which, I suppose, you have already heard of. – Sunday and Monday were two of the hardest days I ever experienced. We left our camp at 4 o’clock, Sunday morning, and marched fourteen miles to the battle ground. I did not have to fight. I remained in the back ground with the Doctor. The enemy was situated on a hill, behind masked batteries. Our troops took position on another hill, with a fine valley between them, the batteries playing from each hill. The federal troops behaved nobly; but for want of proper officers, (not outs,) ammunition, and besides that the boys were so tired that they could hardly walk, they were compelled to retreat. The battle lasted from 12 till 4 o’clock, when we retreated from the field, and marched to Washington, a distance of 40 miles. We carried some provisions with us, but the men threw all encumbrances away as they went into battle; therefore we had to march from Sunday morning to Monday morning, without resting over five minutes at a time, and without any sleep or anything to eat, going nearly sixty miles, and drank water that you would not wash your hands in.

I felt very stiff for one or two days afterwards, but now I feel first rate, and am anxious to go back, for the rest of the boys are willing to go. We will clean them out yet.

Only four of Wanzer’s company are missing; John Clague – Instantly killed. W. H. Merrill – wounded. Taken to the hospital, and the hospital was afterward burned by the rebels – Hamlin – foot shot off. Left to the tender mercies of the foe, and McGettrick – “sun struck.” I helped him a mile, when the cavalry charged on us, and I had to leave him.

I had to dodge cannon balls right and left, when from curiosity I ventured too near the fight. I captured a “secesh musket,” and the other boys took some swords, muskets and revolvers.

From your affectionate friend,
Daniel W. Bosley.

Rochester (NY) Democrat and American, 7/29/1861

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T. H. C., On the 2nd Vermont Infantry In the Battle

14 05 2020

Correspondence of the Journal
The Second Vermont Regiment.

“T. H. C.” writing from Washington, July 24, to the Burlington Times, furnishes additional particulars respecting the Vermont Regiment, from which it will be seen that they were not furnished with the new Enfield guns which were promised, but went into the battle with their old “smooth bores.” Some luck regiment undoubtedly had the nice rifled guns which we understand were offered to Vermont by parties in Canada, but refused. – The War Department had given no authority to purchase them, and of course it could not be done! We give the principal portion of the letter as follows:

Our men, wearied and fatigued by the long march in the sun, without breakfast and water, and being attacked at once upon their arrival, it will be seen they fought at great disadvantages. In fact it seems almost incredible that they could have endured it half the time they did. – The Vermont regiment was the first in the brigade, as I am informed, to commence the action, and were kept in the hottest of the battle most of the time, and were the last to leave the field, and never during the whole engagement did they exhibit any dissatisfaction, until the order came to retreat. With this they were very much displeased.

The enemy used the best rifled cannon, mostly, bringing their infantry and cavalry into action only when necessary to make a charge. It must be evident to every one that under these circumstances, armed as our regiment was with the poorest arms, they could not do great execution against an enemy thus protected, however brave and determined they might be. I have seen every captain and officer of our regiment since the engagement, and received from each their statement as to their particular commands, and the wonder is that they were not completely annihilated, and I have yet to see the first soldier who was not cool and fearless during the whole time, and who is not dissatisfied that they were called away. – The Battleboro Company, Captain Todd, being the Company carrying the flag, received the most injury, their captain receiving a ball through the throat in the early part of the action and was carried from the field.

While some companies were in worse positions than others and of course were called upon to do more, still there were none of them but what fought desperately and until the last moment.

Probably the Bennington Company, Capt. Walbridge, did more execution than the others, from the fact that they were the only company to have Minnie muskets or rifles. In every instance, Capt. W. told me, whenever he came into fair action with a company of rebels, he silenced them after four rounds. The other companies fought at a great disadvantage, their muskets being a poor weapon to contend with the rifles of the enemy. – Every Captain gives his men much credit for their obedience to orders and bravery during the whole action, and our whole regiment came from the field to Centreville in perfect order. Lieut. Col. Stannard, (although not well when he came on to the field) and Major Joyce behaved most nobly, gallantly and bravely – being at their posts in the midst of a perfect shower of balls and shot, rallying their men, and issuing their orders with coolness and dispatch. The men are universal in their expressions of praise and admiration of the conduct of these officers, as well as that of Adjutant Ladd, who passed from company to company in the midst of the thickest fight. Assistant Surgeon Carpenter remained at the Hospital, some two miles from the battle field to take care of the sick and wounded as they were brought in, and so remained in active discharge of his duties until the general rout, when the hospital was fired into by the rebels and destroyed – the sick escaping in every possible way they could – Surgeon Carpenter was the last to leave it, and not until every man was away. No man upon the field was more cool in the performance of his duties than Surgeon Ballou. He took upon himself the duty of going upon the field with the ambulances, to pick up the wounded and take them to the hospital, which proved to be the most dangerous part of all.

The enemy firing on the ambulances, in a short time every one which Dr. Ballou had was shot to pieces, with the wounded in them, he narrowly escaping many times, and finally, when he came in with the last one, it was struck by a ball, separating it from the horses, and about the same time a charge was made by the Black Horse cavalry, of Alexandria, which created a stampede, when the Doctor, mounting one of the horses, left the field. – This was after the whole army was in retreat, and there was general consternation. He soon found a wounded soldier, whom he put on the horse, and being separated from the regiment, made his way back to Alexandria walking through the woods 30 miles.

I regret to say that there is dissatisfaction with Col. Whiting, whether justly or unjustly in not for me to say. If all reports are correct it is due to him, and to the brave sons of Vermont who have fought so gallantly, that the matter should be investigated. Every soldier who survived is ready and anxious to march to the battle-field again; but under their present impression respecting the Col. they will enter a battle with little confidence.

Col. Bowdish, Wm. G. Shaw, John B. Page, F. Chaffee and myself spent Friday and Saturday last with the army at Centreville, and left about six hours before they were ordered to prepare for battle. Yesterday Col. B. and myself spent at Alexandria, gathering a list of the missing, which as near as we can ascertain up to the hour of writing, is as follows:

Company A, Capt. Walbridge, Bennington.

Andrew J. Noyes – Flesh wound below hip, was in ambulance coming from the field.
Wm. E. Murphy – Left on the field to take care of Noyes.
Thomas Morissey – Sick before the battle and supposed to be a prisoner.

Company B, Capt. Hope, Castleton.

Warren Gifford, Danby – Wounded in the hand, left camp at Centreville.
Jeremiah Bolton, Hydeville – Flesh wound in thigh, last seen at hospital near field.
H. L. Breckensaid, Rutland – Killed.

Company C, Capt. Todd, Brattleboro’.

This is the only company which we have not full returns. The Capt. is at the National Hotel in this city and will soon be out. He says that about a dozen of his company are missing.

iCo. D, Capt. Dillingham, Waterbury.i

P. F. Flaherty – gave out on the field.
John Gwoing – wounded in the foot – last seen on the field.
John H. Murray, Duxbury, seen on field.
Dan. K. Stickey, Berling, seen on field.
These are supposed to be prisoners.

Co. E, Capt. Smith, Tunbridge.

Harrison Dewey, Royalton – last seen at Centreville, weary.
S. L. D. Goodale – last seen on retreat.
Edson Wiggins, Chelsea – last seen on retreat.
George A. Martin fell out before reaching the field.
A. Waldo, Royalton – left in the hospital at Centreville sick.

Co. F, Capt. Randall, Montpelier.

Victory Goodrich, Roxbury – Killed.
Benj. Taylor, Montpelier – last seen on the field.

Co. G, Capt. Drew, Burlington.

Capt. J.T. Drew was sick Saturday and when they were ordered to march insisted on going, and was last seen by Sergeant Bliss of Bennington Co. about 2 miles from the field at the hospital, probably prisoner.
Sergeant Geo. W. Woodward, Westford – last seen on retreat before the cavalry attack.
H. W. Conroe, South Hero – last seen on retreat before the cavalry attack.
Benj. Martin, South Hero – last seen on retreat before the cavalry attack.
John Redmond – last seen on field.
L. M. Wilson stopped at his fathers in Fairfax and probably Woodward may be with him.

Co. H, Capt. Burham, Fletcher.

Sergeant Woodbury, arm shot off and amputated, left the hospital near the field.
Geo. Streeter, Milton – wounded below knee pan in both legs, in Stone Church at Centreville.
Jehiel S. Bailey, Bakersfield – last seen on the field.
N. B. Lathrop, Cambridge – last seen on the field.
A. Paris, Fairfax – last seen on the field.
Eugene C. Sleeper, Fairfax – last seen on the field.

Co. I, Capt. Fullam, Ludlow.

John A. Leonard, Shrewsbury – wounded I the arm, last seen o the field.
Geo. H. Lewis, fifer, not seen since he went into the field.

Co. K, Capt. Eaton, Vergennes.

Henry Huntly, seen on retreat.

From this it will be seen there are but about 46 missing and but 8 known to be dead. Soldiers are constantly coming in, and as it is about 30 miles from the Potomac to the field of battle, and the country intervening being covered more or less with woods it will take some time for them to come in. I have no doubt the missing will be reduced to 20. I may ot be correct in all my account but have given from the best authority I could get.

Walton’s Daily Journal (Montpelier, VT), 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy





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

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Abraham Ford at Ancestry.com 

Abraham Ford at Fold3 





Pvt. Louis. L. Hingle, Co. E, 14th N. Y. S. M., On the Battle

3 03 2019

Company C*, 14th Regiment,
Camp Porter, July 23, 1861.

Friend Joe – I hasten to inform you that our boys are all well, not one of us shot, but some very narrow escapes, such as balls passing through our caps, coats, &c. I will now try and give you a description of the march and battle. When I wrote my last letter to you, we were about three miles from a small village named Centreville, then occupied by the rebels, but they left as soon as they heard we were coming, so we kept our camp all that day till 2 o’clock in the morning. We then marched towards Manassas, which is about twenty-six miles from Fairfax, but there was a masked battery on our way, which we must take, so we had to march about six miles around it, to get on the other side, which was through a dense woods. At the time the head of our Division arrived any way near the battery, they opened fire upon us, but they were darn poor shots, for nearly all of them went over our heads; but I tell you it was no fools-work to have these cannon balls come humming over our heads, and to see our boys keep their eyes open, so as to dodge them. As yet, we were about 2 ½ miles from their battery, so off went blankets, and all our knapsacks, with our grub, for ach man had to carry two days’ rations with him. So we right-shouldered our muskets and proceeded in double-quick time to the battery, and I tell you when we arrived there, our tongues hung out of our mouths like a parcel of half-choked men. – As we could not water or rest, it was pretty rough. Our cannon opened on their batteries, and our infantry charged on the woods, which were full of their infantry. – We drove them all up into the main battery on a hill. They then put us poor bummers on the side of a hill, in a ditch, for a mark of their rifle guns for about fifteen minutes. Then the First and Second Rhode Island made a charge with the Fire Zouaves on their right, and we on the left, but the Rhode Island boys got played out, and retired, so that there was none left but the Zouaves and us, when they charged on us with their cavalry, about eight hundred men. We shot, that is the Zouaves and us, about half of them, so that they ran back like thunder. So there would another regiment come up and relieve us, and son on, till the rebels got reinforced with about twenty thousand men from Manassas, which was only two hour’s ride from them, and the railroad in good working order, so we retreated to Arlington Heights. We marched altogether, sixty miles. But coming through the woods, they cut us off and took a great many prisoners. The report is that they killed all our wounded, for they shelled the Hospital with all our wounded in it. There are about twenty of our company killed and missing, and about three hundred of the regiment. I will write soon and give you all the particulars. Remember me and Henry to mother. – Write soon.

I remain yours,

L. L. H.*

Brooklyn Evening Star, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

84th New York Infantry (14th N. Y. S. M.) Roster

*Likely Pvt. Louis L. Hingle, enlisted 4/18/61. Although listed in the above roster as being in Co. E, there is also a Henry W. Hingle in that same company. Either the Evening Star mislabeled the letter, or the roster is incorrect. Ancestry.com shows L. L. Hingle as mustering into Co. E. A muster roll abstract at Fold3 shows Co. E as well. The evening Star appears to have either misprinted the company or read the “E” in the original letter as “C,” an easy enough mistake to make.

Louis L. Hingle at Ancestry.com

Louis L. Hingle at Fold3

Louis L. Hingle at FindAGrave 





J. S.*, Co. H, 14th N. Y. S. M., On the Battle

2 03 2019

Headquarters, 14th Regt., N. Y. S. M.,
Camp Porter, Co. H,
Washington, July 23, 1861.

Dear Father, Mother, and Sister: – I now take this opportunity to let you know the hardships I have gone through since writing my last letter. On last Tuesday, the 16th, we left our encampment, and marched to Fairfax, and on the Court House the rebel flag was flying; but it soon came down, and the stars and stripes were hoisted. The rebels fled as soon as we came in sight, leaving everything after them. We then pursued them to Centreville, and from there to Bull’s Run, where we opened fire on them from six different points, at to o’clock, Sunday morning, the 21st. The battle lasted for about six hours. There was a heavy loss on both sides. We marched thirty miles from Centreville, without sleep, and nothing but hard crackers, and dirty water to drink. When we had got ten miles from Bull’s Run, they had the road blocked up with trees and all the bridges torn down, which took us a long time to repair and resume our march. General McDowell headed our Brigade, which numbered about six thousand. General McDowell ordered the Fourteenth up a road to head the enemy off, when the Seventy-first Regiment of New York fired upon us, thinking that we were rebels, killing and wounded about forty of our Regiment. We were then ordered back to the rear of the field. We then loaded, and marched with the Fire Zouaves, and fired two volleys into the rebel troops, when they returned the fire, and we were mowed down like grass. I am very sorry to tell you that our Colonel was shot in that volley. I stepped out of the ranks, and lifted him up and put my musket under him, and helped carry him off the field. He was shot through the thigh. That was the last I saw of him after leaving the hospital. He has not returned to the camp since, and it is feared by the boys that he has been taken prisoner. As I was coming back after leaving the Colonel, a shell broke, killing and wounding sixteen of our Regiment. One piece of it struck my cap, and took it about 12 yards off my head. I wish you would tell Jimmy Doyle and the boys that Lewis Francis had his head taken off his shoulders. I managed to get off without a scratch, and I thank God for it; but my clothes were all torn to pieces. Our Major showed himself the smartest man on the field, and our Regiment has gained for itself a name which will never be forgotten. I am very glad to tell that we caved our Captain and Lieutenant Davie, and Mr. Weeks safe also, and Mr. McBride. It was the most heart-rending scene I ever witnessed, to see my comrades strewn dead under my feet. After retreating, which we did after advancing three times without success, we saw them advancing and killing our wounded men. Our gallant color bearer planted the stars and bars within ten feet of the rebels’ battery, when he was shot dead. When we were retreating, they came around at the back of us and tried to cut off our retreat, and I was taken prisoner and taken about half a mile from the rebel camp, when the cavalry headed them off through the woods, and saved me. I then made double quick time for about two miles, when I thought I was all safe, so I laid down and took a sleep for about four hours, when a man woke me up and told me that the enemy was about five miles off and coming toward us. All the things we had except our arms we had to throw away, and run, for fear of being captured again. There was an old house on the battle field, which we used for the hospital for our wounded, and the enemy threw a bomb shell into it and it is supposed killed all that were in it. There are very large bodies of men coming over from Washington now, and we expect to make another attack the week; but I don’t think we will go, as there is not more than half of the Regiment left. There is some talk here about sending us home for our gallant conduct during the battle of Sunday. Jim McNamara is all safe. As for Tome, in the Seventy-first, I did not see him. I will try and see him by my next letter.

J. S.

Brooklyn Evening Star, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

84th New York Infantry (14th N. Y. S. M.) Roster

*Possibly Pvt. James Seymour, enlisted 4/18/61, or Pvt. John Shannon, enlisted 4/18/61, or Pvt. John Smith, enlisted 5/23/61.





Pvt. George L. Smith, Co. C, 1st Minnesota Infantry, On the Battle

20 12 2016

Letters of Volunteers.
———-

[We take pleasure in giving herewith, letters and extracts from letters of our brave Volunteers, who were in the battle at Bull Run. One of these letters is from Minnesota Volunteer, to his brother in Smithville; the rest are all from men from this town and Coventry, all of whom are members of the 27th Regiment, which performed such heroic deeds on the field of battle, they will be read with peculiar interest, as being graphic and truthful accounts of the battle, spiced with many instances of personal adventure, and hairbreadth escapes:]

———-

Washington, July 23, 1861.

Dear Brother: Fearing that you might hear a report of my being killed in the disastrous action of the 21st, I take this method of informing you and other friends that I am alive, and by the intervention of Providence, untouched – I have experienced a new sensation lately – that of hearing the rush of shot and shell, and of seeing friends and companions in arms falling by my side in the cold embrace of glorious death. We were driven – routed – but not until the ground was covered with the slain. We were not disheartened. We hope to regain and will regain our position, or die in the attempt. I can give no certain account of our loss, as we retired in disorder. Probably 100 killed outright and 250 wounded in this Regiment alone. Our wounded will, I fear be killed at last. I have heard that the house used as a hospital was burned and all killed. The enemy were in a strong force, and after the charge was made they had batteries which could not be seen until they opened fire, and then only by the smoke. We were rushed up in disorder to a masked battery, with a large number of the enemy in a concealed trench. We discovered them before they fired, but our officers refused to let us fire, because they said they were friends, but they fired, and many a gallant heart ceased beating. We dropped on the ground and fired, reloaded and fired, and kept firing. We were repulsed, and returned again; again separated and again rallied on our colors, which we brought with us from the field.

In our Company, C, the color Co., we lost about 25 killed, our Captain wounded, 2d Lieut. do, 3 Sergeants killed, or missing, and some 6 others slightly scratched. I was loading the 5th time, when a ball passed between my fingers, taking my ramrod from my hand, leaving me with a useless gun, until I could pick up another ramrod. I got one, but it was too large at the large end, and I had to load with the small end. Well, I gave them about 14 rounds, and then left with a mixed crowd of Fire Zouaves, Minnessota, and Massachusetts troops, Garibaldi Guards and U. S. Regulars.

They killed our wounded on the field, and we understand they killed all in our hospitals, They were in strong force, – and were reinforced by 10,000 men, just as we were marched on to them. * * * Please write, and send papers, and have others do so, for we are much pleased to get them in camp. Direct to Co. C, 1st Regiment Minnesota Volunteers, Washington, D. C.

Yours, &c.,

Geo. L. Smith

Chenango [N. Y.] American, 8/8/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

George L. Smith bio 

George L. Smith at Fold3