Martha Thornberry and Federal Prisoners

11 01 2023

An Incident of the Retreat. – The Richmond correspondence of the Columbia South Carolinian relates the following:

On the retreat, a tired Yankee stopped at a farm house and begged for water, Mrs. Thornton, the owner handed him a tumbler, pouring a little brandy into it, as he seemed very exhausted. As she offered it, he shrank back for a moment, but took it and drank it. She asked him why he did, and he replied, “to be candid with you, I feared you had put poison into it. She replied, “Sir, you do not know you are speaking to a Virginia lady; to be equally candid with you, you go no further.” She then called two of her servants and directed them to disarm him which they did. Another coming up for water, she made the servants treat him similarly, and this took two prisoners. A few minutes after another Yankee went to the spring, and a servant girl gave him water. He said, “Good-bye, girl;” when she said, “No, you must go to my mistress, and thank her, not me.” She marched him up, and as she got near the party, cried out, “Mistress, here is my prisoner,” and this another was bagged, and the three guarded until a squad of cavalry came and marched them to headquarters.

An aid of Gen. Beauregard told us that he had just been over to thank the lady, in the General’s name. for her heroic conduct.

The Vicksburg (MS) Weekly Citizen, 9/2/1861

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Asst. Surg. Dr. George Miller Sternberg, U. S. Infantry Battalion, On Capture and Escape

7 01 2023

A FALSE STATEMENT POSITIVELY REFUTED. – Dr. Sternberg, Assistant Surgeon, U. S. A., who, after the battle of Bull Run (on Thursday, the 21st instant) remained behind to attend to our wounded, reached this city last evening. On becoming a prisoner of Beauregard, he gave his parole not to attempt an escape for four days, and with the rest of the Union surgeons and their assistants made prisoners at the same time, was permitted to devote his attention wholly to our wounded until his escape. He says that our wounded were treated by the disunionists in all respects as well as they treated their own, except that in bringing them in from the field they brought their own in first, and in that way all of ours were not gotten in until sometime on the Tuesday following the battle.

He remained their prisoner without attempting an escape, for four or six hours after the expiration of the time for which he had given his parole, and then took occasion to get away, He was some days in making his way through the woods to the Potomac, where he built a raft and launched himself upon it. Fortunately, he soon found a boat, on which he managed to cross the river, to find himself among friends. – [Washington Star, July 31.

Pittsburgh (PA) Daily Post, 8/3/1861

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George Miller Sternberg at Ancestry

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Edmund Ruffin, On the Battle and Aftermath

22 12 2022



Our Richmond Correspondence.


Richmond, July 61.

Edmund Ruffin – What he says of the Great Battle – His Part in the Fight – An Exciting Scene – The Field after the Fight, etc., etc.

I have, from an eyewitness of, and participator in, the closing scenes of the battle of Manassas, some details of an interesting character; especially so to South Carolinians, because they relate, in part, to the brave men of their State. My informant is well known to the people of Charleston, and to the people of South Carolina, and the whole South, by fame. He is the noble old Virginian who fired the first gun at Sumter, and the last gun at Manassas; he who had sworn he would never live under the Lincoln Government, and left his home in Virginia, before the inauguration of the Black Republican dynasty, and did not return till his State seceded. Edmund Ruffin, the venerable hero, truthful as he is brave, who saw, and participated in the glorious battle, gives me the subjoined facts, in part from memory, and in part from the notes in his private journal.

Mr. Ruffin does not presume to say what impression had been made, or was being made, when he entered the field where the action was going on, by other troops along the line, upon the enemy; he only mentions Kershaw’s command, to which he attached himself. He could not tell the precise time when he saw Kershaw’s brigade and reinforcements march by him to where the battle appeared to be the hottest, but he saw and recognised them, an suppose it was about three o’clock in the afternoon. There were at that time under Kershaw’s command, his own and Cash’s regiments, from South Carolina; Preston’s regiment, or part of a regiment, of Virginia; Kemper’s artillery, the Powhatan, the Hanover, and some of the Albermarle cavalry. – Having witnessed for some time the movements of the different bodies of men, of each side, surging to and fro; now in sight of the crest of a hill, and then hid from view in a valley; all amidst the thunder, and smoke, and dust of battle, he saw the enemy give way where Kershaw’s command was engaged. He could not say what other command, or what other troops than his, aided in breaking the enemy’s line, and turning the tide of battle; but he gives to Kershaw and his brave command the honor due to them.

I quote Mr. Ruffin’s own graphic language, describing scenes of the battle field: “I was told by many of these (troops that had fallen back) that our army had been driven by the enemy for miles (which was true, though falling back gradually, and in good order, and without ceasing fire), that the day was going against us, and that several companies and regiments had been nearly cut to pieces. In the few minutes consumed by these enquiries and answers, I perceived that reinforcements of infantry were passing on by us. (These were Kershaw’s and Col. Cash’s troops.) Stunned as I was by the unexpected and gloomy reports, I thought that these reinforcements might yet save the almost lost day; and that it was the duty of every man who could pull a trigger to lend his aid to their action. I hastily determined, feeble, and then fatigued as I was, that I would go, and try also to induce others who had before retired, to go. Therefore I called out to those around me, and asked those who would join me to go with the reinforcements. Not one replied, or made any indications of leaving, staring at me in silence. I said no more, but turned off and proceeded towards the battle.”

Here Mr. Ruffin describes the movements of troops in the fields and woods, falling back at one time, and advancing another, without naming them, and which would require a diagram to understand it.

He goes on to say: “All the engaged forces had passed out of my view before I had walked to the corn field. The reinforcing regiments of infantry (Col. Kershaw’s, of South Carolina, and some others, he in command of the brigade) marched along the path through the corn field to the position marked.”

“I had not gone one hundred yards from where I set out for the field, before meeting other skulkers who had withdrawn later from the battle. I heard from them repetitions of our disasters. I thought my advancing further to be useless and foolish, and that, in the inevitable speedy rout – for even in an orderly, though rapid retreat, I would not fail to be left behind – I would have turned back, but for sham. I still walked onward, until overtaken by one of Kemper’s field pieces, going the same way, and, as I did not doubt, it was going where it could do most service. The officers in command who knew me before, invited me to take a seat on the gun carriage, which I accepted most gladly. The carriage had proceeded but a short distance, when it was stopped, and, as if by new orders, turned round by the team, and trotted fast backward along the path, and then up the public road, on the left, where it was again stopped. I was entirely at a loss to guess what this movement meant. But I had full confidence in Capt. Kemper, and that he was doing whatever courage and good conduct directed. He was present; and he had his other three pieces close by. They remained still for a short time, during which and before we got there the firing of musketry was rapidly kept up in the direction of the wood alongside of us. Of course the nearest must have been the firing of the enemy, which seemed to me not more than 150 or 200 yards distant. I did not deem it proper at such a time to occupy the attention of Capt. Kemper, or any other officer to answer questions. So I remained under my late impressions, that defeat was inevitable, and that a retreat had already begun; until hearing that it was the enemy that was retreating, and that our army had, at last, by aid mainly of the reinforcements, turned the tide of battle, and gained a glorious victory.”

“We were soon joined by other troops, mostly from South Carolina, and began to march; where I did not know then; but, as it appeared afterwards, in pursuit of the enemy for a few miles only. The movement was by Col. Kershaw’s Brigade only, with Kemper’s Artillery, and some troops of cavalry. Our way was along roads, passing first through the field of battle. We crossed “Stone Bridge” over Bull Run, along the route of the fleeing enemy. Our progress was slow, with several stoppages, the reason of which I did not know, but suppose it was on account of the weariness of our men. We saw many of the killed, though our route was at first only on the outskirts of the hardest contested ground. Muskets and other arms were scattered along the road. Where we first stopped on the top of a hill, I saw our cavalry pursuing the enemy in different directions. While here some acquaintances of Col. Hampton’s Legion approached me. They had suffered severely. As we marched along and passed his corps, they gave three cheers in honor of me. The same was done by the Palmetto Guard, to which I belonged, as we passed them. No one of this company were killed, and only twelve wounded. As we proceeded farther, the indications of the haste and dispersion of the fleeing Yankees became more numerous. The road was strewn with articles thrown away by the fugitives. The haversacks were all filled with crackers or hard biscuit. The road was straight, and of great advantage for our artillery to fire upon the enemy. Several rounds of shot and shell were fired, but we could not tell the effect produced, except that the enemy, who appeared before to show a disposition to stand, made their escape by a lateral road to our left. The Palmetto Guard were sent out skirmishing, and fired two rounds upon the fugitives. They received some few shots in return. A company of the Albemarle cavalry was sent also in pursuit. Col. Kershaw received information that the Yankees had all fled. He then ordered the artillery, wagons, &c., the enemy had left behind, should be brought in. We then marched back.

“The following day, I borrowed a horse of Col. Kershaw, and rode over one portion of the battle field. The sight was horrible. The great number of dead were nearly all of the Yankee army, and were scattered over a field of some thirty acres, and probably extended in like manner for some three miles, over which the conflict had passed. Many were of the Zouave regiment. I saw some five or six of the wounded still alive. All of them lay quiet and motionless, until looking up as I approached near. The first I came near had a tin cup of water, but, as I thought, not within his reach. I alighted from my horse, and asked if he wished to drink, offering the cup to his lips. I was glad to see that all, or nearly all, that I afterwards visited, had been provided in like manner, by the kindness of our men. To one I said, that when placed in the hospital, he would be cared for as well as our own wounded men. To this he replied, he believed it, for he had been kindly treated since lying there.”

Mr. Ruffin, in making his statements, is very careful not to say more than he knows, and therefore, his testimony as to the part which Col. Kershaw and his South Carolina brigade took in the battle of Manassas, is perfectly reliable.

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/5/1861

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Lt. George Mytinger Brisbin, Co. E, 6th Louisiana Infantry – Galvanized?

20 12 2022

An Ex-Pittsburgher in Prison as a Secessionist. – Many of our citizens will remember George M. Brisbin, a printer, who was for a long time employed in this office. It had been asserted that he was in the secession army, but the following, from the Harrisburg Telegraph, is the latest intelligence we have of him: – “A man named Geo. M. Brisbin, said to be an officer in one of the New Orleans Volunteer companies, was confined in our prison last Saturday by Sherrif Boss, at the instance of the authorities at Washington. Brisbin, it appears, was taken prisoner at Bull Run, and subsequently confined at Washington. He managed, however, to secure a citizen’s dress, and effected his escape to this city, where it is said he stopped over night at the house of a relative, and proceeded next morning to Alexandria, Huntingdon county, where he was arrested. – We presume he will be taken back to Washington to await the action of the authorities.” [1]


Geo. M. Brisbin, a former resident of Pittsburg, and a printer, of whose capture, while fighting in a rebel company at Bull’s Run, and subsequent escape and arrest at Huntingdon, a note was made in this paper, a few days ago, has published a card in a Harrisburg paper. The traitor coolly complains that he was treated roughly and unwarrantably confined. [2]

1 – Pittsburgh (PA) Daily Post, 8/7/1861

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2 – Wheeling (VA) Daily Intelligencer, 8/12/1861

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George Brisbin apparently remained in Alexandria, PA, and is buried there. He also, apparently, enlisted in the 12 Pennsylvania Infantry regiment, where he remained for 2 weeks, in 1862. Below are images from his Confederate Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) (misspelled as Bristoe. all other records in the file show last name as Brisbin, and the notation on the below is consistent with those other records – see Fold3 link below) and from his Pennsylvania Veteran File Card.

The term for Confederate prisoners who subsequently enlisted in the service of the United States is “Galvanized Yankees.” Brisbin’s service in neither army is recorded on his headstone.

George M. Brisbin at

George M. Brisbin at Fold3

George M. Brisbin at FindAGrave

South Carolina Claims Virginia Too Soft on Yankee Prisoners

20 12 2022


We have been provoked, for the last two or three days, beyond further endurance, by reading, in certain Virginia papers, the most complacent and gratulatory comments on the charming charity and benevolence displayed by certain citizens and officials, in Virginia, towards the invaders of their soil – the plunderers of their estates – the destroyers of their homes and firesides, and the polluters of their women. Most humane and christian individuals! Below we copy, from the Richmond Examiner, its timely strictures upon these strange proceedings. In Alexandria, the very site of their inhuman and brutal outrages, upon the evening of the very day when the flaunting hosts of the enemy marched forth insolently, in all the pride of confident ferocity, with thirty thousand manacles in charge, to slaughter the kindred of her citizens, crush their country, and enslave their race, with all the brutalities of wild barbarians – upon that very evening of their precipitate return, what do we hear but boastings of the tenderness of these sweet people of Alexandria, in extending every kindness in their power to these exhausted and fatigued ravishers and destroyers! And why? Because, forsooth, they were foiled in their amiable expedition of rapine and murder, and driven back in haste, and were, consequently, somewhat soiled, wearied and thirsty from their long and hot run. This we learn from the papers of Alexandria, and how, also, water and food, and comforts generally, were humanely offered them. Verily does it stir the gall within a man to find our counsels and our proceedings marred by such milksop folly. If men’s weak bowels will gush out with such incontinent compassion, why, in the name of common decency, can they not, in secret and in darkness, perform such offices as ill befit the public vision?

Even in Richmond, we are sorry, very sorry to say, we have seen indications of this same parading of a sickly humanitarianism, and boastings of what extreme kindness is extended to these Northern plunderers. Are there no crying brutalities to be stopped on the part of our enemies? Is there no comprehension of the potency of retribution? Are we so weak as to not see the saving efficacy of requiring an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? For what other law is left us? Where will this folly end? There are now in the Tombs of New York, manacled in loathsome dungeons, fifteen citizens of South Carolina, who were taken prisoners of war, bearing arms under the commission of President Davis. They have been for two months dragged through the streets of New York, backwards and forwards, almost weekly, manacled like slaves, to be hooted at, at the pleasure of a greasy rabble – beasts on exhibition. They are now, we repeat, in manacles, in loathsome dungeons. Two of Carolina’s citizens have just been hung, like malefactors, to tree-tops upon the high road. How long are these things to continue, whilst Northern prisoners are to be treated “with the most distinguished consideration”? Not only are their persons most carefully made comfortable (as we are so repeatedly assured), but even their tenderest sensibilities are not to be ruffled. They are distinguished but unfortunate gentlemen, and require all the courtesies due their romantic misfortunes and distinguished positions. In the meantime, our poor boys hang swinging the tree-tops, or lie immersed in dungeons, pining away in chains. Is it supposed that all this is soothing to the minds of Carolinians? Is this further to be tolerated? Why is not every prisoner in Richmond already incarcerated and lying now in irons? How long is this mode of warfare to be permitted and encouraged? Are our troops to be driven to a murderous desperation? If so, let it at once be understood – let the Government inform them that they must redress themselves. For they most assuredly will shortly do it.

In reference to what we have said, we wish to be distinctly understood upon two points:

1st. We have no reflection whatever to make upon Virginia or the people of that State in this matter. She is now doing all that patriotism and honor and gallantry and her ancient renown require at her hands. None more cordially appreciate this than ourselves. But there are mawkish milksops in Virginia, as there are here, and elsewhere – people whom it is doing great public wrong, at this time, to countenance in any way, far less to encourage and commend – people whose weak natures and lukewarm feelings in this matter, give them no stomach for this fight.

2d. We wish it to be understood that we regard this as no matter of mere feeling, either for pity or revenge. Justice, humanity, civilization alike cry aloud for the stern execution of retribution. All this barbarity and outrage on the part of our enemy must be stopped. The sternest retribution is the quickest and surest method to enforce humanity, and compel a christian mode of warfare. Justice must be executed or lawlessness will run riot, and violence and vengeance will take the place of judgment. It is the peculiar privilege of women to forgive – it is the duty of man to execute justice.

In affairs of this sort between nations, there is but one law in operation under the sun. The lex talionis can alone protect the people and achieve humanity – for between nations we come back to first principles.

We sincerely hope we shall not be compelled to speak further upon this subject, for we have long felt it.

In this connection, it is a matter of gratification to learn that our great general, Beauregard, is, at last, bringing traitors to accountability. We learn that he “has caused three traitors to be hung recently, having first received the most indubitable evidence of their treachery. One of the parties was an engineer on the Manassas Gap Railroad, another a preacher of the Gospel, and the third a farmer. They had all furnished valuable aid to the enemy.”

Had this mode of procedure been inaugurated six weeks ago, the enemy would not have learned our countersign in the battle of the 21st, which caused so much loss of life in our own ranks at the hands of our own men. Hundreds of gallant men have fallen at the hands of their own friends, because a few traitors were not previously shot. The very battle itself was very nearly lost – a battle involving thousands of lives, millions of property. and the very integrity of the State of Virginia, imperiling, in fact, the whole cause – by the bold treachery of a railroad conductor. How many valuable lives has this cost? Let the mourners over the sad tombs of Bee, Bartow and Johnson answer. War is the rule of iron. And for that work we must have men of iron nerve, and none other. We have too long been dallying in kid glove and pump-boot diplomacy, and ginger-bread politeness. What we want is hard steel – not sentimental stuff. So far as Gen. Beauregard is concerned, we have no doubt he has seen enough, and knows how to cure that disease. He is the man to do it. We are fatigued, exhausted, sick, disgusted, ad nauseam, with all such unmitigated trifling as here described by the Examiner:

Every pains seems to be taken for the comfort and consolation of our Yankee prisoners. It is not sufficient that their physical comfort should be consulted, but the finer feelings of these unfortunate men and the affectionate anxieties of their families are also consulted and assuaged by a new system of custody. Certainly, General Winder deserves great credit for his humanity. – While he debars all access to the prisoners on the part of reporters of the press, perhaps to protect the unfortunate men from the annoyance and mortification of being too freely spoken of in the newspapers, he has not found it in his heart to hesitate to give permits for visits to carry messages from Northern relatives to the prisoners, and to satisfy inquiries about their “health,” or any other little interesting circumstances of their condition. What delicacy of humanity! It is positively a refreshing circumstance in the hardships and asperities of war – an oasis in a moral desert – a kind return of the rude jokes of the Yankee in treating our prisoners as “pirates” and jestingly threatening to murder them in the streets of Washington.

We are assured of the happening of our little incident of humanity that shows that the tenderest charity may dwell beneath a military uniform, however that garb may be a stranger to the common intercourse of politeness among civilians. It was but a few minutes before the request of a reporter to visit the Federal prisoners was refused, and the polite note making the application [?] shoved back to him, that there happened in the office, where permits are granted, the charming instance of humanity of granting a permit to a person to see one of the prisoners, that he might telegraph his health and condition, and any other interesting circumstance, to the anxious father of the unfortunate man in New York. It was deprecatingly mentioned by the applicant that the young Yankee had “got into a bad box” – certainly a mild and considerate way of putting the circumstance of a murderer having been taken in arms.

These delicacies of consideration to our Yankee prisoners, we trust, will not be lost on the North. Let the citizens of Richmond immediately send on their messages of comfort and consolation to our prisoners in New York and Washington. they will be constantly advised of their health. Their custodians will protect them from the painful curiosity of the newspapers and from the irreverent visits of the reporters. They will be treated with all the refinements of humanity; and all enquiries, except from their families, will be repulsed as impertinent, and denied with the emphasis of military impoliteness. What happy exchanges of humanity we are to have! What good fortune to fall into the hands of Yankees after they have been edified by the improved system of prison discipline inaugurated by the military humanitarians of Richmond!

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/2/1861

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Musician/Band Director Timothy Dwight Nutting, 13th Mississippi Infantry, On the Battle, Casualties, and Aftermath

7 12 2022

We publish below a very full and interesting letter descriptive of the battle of Manassas, from the pen of one of our townsmen, Prof. Nutting, Director of the Brass Band attached to the 13th Mississippi Regiment. The letter was addressed to his lady, who has kindly placed it at our disposal.


Manassas Junction, July 23rd, 1861.

—————, If you have received my last letter (from Lynchburg,) you will be prepared to hear from me here. My head is so confused with the scenes of the last 48 hours, that it seems like moving a mountain, grain by grain, to attempt to give an account of it all. I will write away however, as ideas present themselves, and as long as I can to-day, as I do not know at what moment we may be ordered forward. Sunday morning at 2 o’clock we landed from the cars, having been cooped up in them for 11 days and nights, on our way from Union City, we spread our tents on the ground and laid down on them with nothing over us but the skies and our blankets, at daylight we were summoned to eat breakfast, (after cooking the same,) and holding ourselves in readiness for any orders from Gen. Beauregard. At 7 the Regiment was formed, and we were ordered to a point 4 miles nearly east, where a division of several thousand men was located under Gen. Longstreet, and an attack was expected from the “Yankees” at any moment. Before we had fairly started, the booming guns of the batteries announced that the services had commenced, and upon the way the smoke from their guns was plainly visible. – Our guide took us through a route that exposed us less to the fire of their guns, which they pointed at every moving mass of men or horses that they could discover. Much of the time we were walking in thickets of small pines, which made it very difficult to proceed at all. We finally, after 3 hours marching, took our position as reserve corps, not being in any condition to fight unless required by urgent necessity, being stationed on the south side of a deep ravine calle “Bull’s Run,” upon very high ground, but masked by a skirt of pine trees about 1/2 of a mile through. The batteries of the enemy were constantly playing upon the position which Gen. Longstreet’s troops occupied, and although we were only about 1/2 of a mile from them, (Longstreet’s men,) we had seen none of them, as thickets intervened. The enemy’s batteries now occupied a position nearly 1 1/2 miles north of us on the heights across Bull’s Run and were supported by a very strong force of infantry that had advanced from Centreville and Fairfax Court House, and were intending to take possession of Manassas before night, and proceed directly on to Richmond. By means of a traitor who is taken, they learned perfectly our position and force, and the best route of march to attack, which was to send an immense force west, about 5 miles down the Run, and take Stone Bridge, and march immediately here from the north west. It was for a diversion from this plan that the attack was commenced above and to the eastward, and we were not long halted in the place I have named, before a very strong attack was made at the Stone Bridge, which was sustained by our men at an odds of ten to one until reinforcements could be sent from Manassas consisting of Regiments from several States. Gen. Beauregard saw into the plan immediately, and ordered almost the entire force of artillery, cavalry and infantry, from the eastern wing to the scene of action. Our 13th Regiment was stripped of every thing, knapsacks, blankets, and all but muskets, and ordered to “double quick march” for 5 miles. In such a movement our field music was useless, and Col. Barksdale told us who had no muskets, to fall back and look after our baggage, tents, &c. In returning we passed over a height where we saw distinctly the battle raging about 3 miles to the north west, and a more sublime sight was never witnessed in America. The cannonading was terrific. Sherman’s battery of ten pieces of flying artillery being but a small part of the artillery opposed to our men. The fight lasted till 5 o’clock, which was 9 hours and over, after the attack commenced, and without any cessation of the roar of cannon and rattle of musketry, except for a moment or two, while some flank movements were being made. I cannot stop now to give you many details. the force of the enemy was by their own confession, about 70,000, against which we had at no time, over 35,000, and many of the reinforcements came too late for anything but to join in chasing them in retreat. Our cavalry and artillery followed them back to Fairfax C. H., and made sad havoc among them. They left muskets, rifles, knapsack and blankets on the road and made the best of their way, leaving all their dead and wounded behind on the battle field. Yesterday morning, day after the fight, I saw 500 of the prisoners put on a train for Richmond, who were taken in the battle without being wounded at all. The entire number of prisoners taken so far in this battle, is not less than 1500. Our Regiment and 5 others, went into action in time to make some bayonet charges, which caused the precipitate retreat. – Just at the moment this commenced, Jeff. Dabis arrived from Richmond, jumped on a horse and ordered the cavalry in pursuit, leading them for some time in person. He then returned in season to congratulate the troops on their brilliant victory, which produced the greatest joy and excitement. Now comes the sad part of the tale. Within a long shed not a stones throw from the spot where I am writing, are not less than 800 dead, dying and wounded men. Just before I began my letter, I walked through it, and spent an hour or more, in trying to alleviate suffering – all mingled together, are Southerners and Northerners, brought in from the field in wagons, which have been busy ever since Sunday night in moving those who could not walk. O, and what an idea, that men should be brought to face each other in such plight, who were ready to cut each others throats two days ago! Some would ask imploringly for water. Some to move a limb that was shot and mangled to pieces, others for a Surgeon to dress wounds already filled with living insects. I saw one poor fellow from Minasota with a musket ball wound through his left breast above the back which was swarming so thick with them, that he was trying to dip them out with the end of a large straw. These have all to wait for attention, until our men are attended to, and are in this plight because their men did not stop to take care of them, and all day yesterday, they lay on the battle field in a drenching could rain, till they were picked up by our wagons, and brought to our camps. This is only one of some half dozen places within a half hours walk, each one filled with the same. Twenty wagon loads of the enemy’s dead were taken off the field yesterday, and scarcely a perceptible difference was made in the number on the field., which extends over a distance of about seven miles along the Run, east and west. Our wounded men are sent to Culpeper for attention, so that most that are here now, are of the enemy, who are to be sent to Richmond as fast as possible. It is impossible to compute the number killed and wounded on each side, but it is immense, and I trust will be the last battle needed to bring our enemies to their senses. I have talked with more than twenty of them, and find the same account from them all. They say they came to Washington to defend the Capitol, and they have been ordered over here contrary to the terms of their enlistment. Most of these in this battle enlisted for three months, which expired on Saturday the 20th, their officers told them they should go into it or be branded as deserters, and the first one who grumbled would be shot down. They all say they will never be coaxed ot compelled to fight again.

Their expectations and the promises of their officers were that they would have possession of Manassas junction on Sunday and proceed to Richmond immediately and use up our Rebel organization in a hurry – all these things ae from such men as Dr. Powell of New York City, as good a Surgeon as is in their army, whom I saw and heard express these sentiments and many more like them. He was taken prisoner in the retreat Sunday night, with five assistants in his wagon, with the most splendid assortment of surgical instruments to be found anywhere. Not less than 30 officers of high rank were taken, all of them have paid their respects to Davis and Beauregard and gone to Richmond with a free pass. Sheran’s Battery was taken entire, and most of the men were killed and wounded, and nearly 50 pieces of artillery and 200 horses were taken and brought to this place yesterday morning. Ellsworth’s Zouaves, and the famous 69th New York Rigiment (Col. Corcoran’s Irish Regiment were Court Martialed for not honoring the Prince of Wales by ordering our his command.) were engaged and large numbers of Regulars and Marines all of their best forces from Maine to Minnisota in fact. I cannot stop to particularize further and will only say that the news has just come in that our men, Gen. Johnston’s command, 19,000 strong, are already on the march to Alexandria and we shall all follow to-morrow. We also hear that there is great disaffection existing in Washington and the troops are reported to be fighting among themselves. However this may be, we shall not rest until all of them are driven off our soil. The belief of all the prisoners is that Scott cannot organize and army to invade the Southern soil again, which is pretty near the truth in my opinion. At any rate I believe the question will be settled in less than two months, and we can be allowed to go to our homes once more in peace. God grant that no more blood shall be required to satisfy the craving appetite of Lincoln and Scott. We cannot be taken here by any force that can be brought against us. We have been reinforced by thousands upon thousands since the fight, who will be brought into the field in case of necessity. I suppose it will be best to direct your letters to Manassas Junction as it will be our head quarters for the present. Remember me kindly to all my friends and do not forget us in your prayers to our Heavenly Father.

Your ever affectionate husband,
T. D. Nutting.

The (Jackson, MS) Weekly Mississippian, 8/14/1861

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Timothy Dwight Nutting at

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Corp. William H. Merrell, Co. E, 27th New York Infantry, On His Captivity (2)

25 11 2022

The Wounded Prisoners at Richmond.

Mr. W. H. Merrill, one of the wounded prisoners at Richmond, writes as follows to the Rochester Express. His letter is dated August 20th:

“I assure you that I am indeed grateful to God for the preservation of my life, and that I have fallen into the hands of those who have left nothing undone that would contribute to my health or comfort.

“I was wounded about two hours after we entered the field at Bull Run, in the breast, near the heart, and fell soon after. * * * *

“We have had the best surgeons to be had, who have labored hard for our comfort. Many amputations have been necessary, which have been performed with skill. I think the wounded prisoners would endorse what I say when I give our foes credit for doing for us all that can possibly be done. I hope all who have friends here will be at ease about them, for they are in good, kind hands. The Sisters of Mercy (or Charity) are with us to cheer and nurse us. They labor hard, day and night. I have been much pained to read some of the contemptible false slanders of the Northern press about the Federal prisoners being treated with inhumanity. All such statements are false.

“I speak in strong terms because the Virginians have treated us well; for one I shall never forget them. I write just as it it, without fear or favor.”

The (Baltimore, MD) Daily Exchange, 9/9/1861

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William H. Merrell at Ancestry

William H. Merrell at Fold3

William H. Merrell at FindAGrave (Possibly)

Surgeon Dr. Jacob Henry Stewart, 1st Minnesota Infantry, On the Sudley Church Field Hospital, Treatment of Wounded, Captivity, and Parole

11 11 2022

Statement by Dr. J.H. Stewart, Surgeon of the First Regiment of Minnesota Volunteers

In publishing the narrative of Dr. Stewart we have taken the liberty of interspersing a few head lines, for the eye to rest upon and relive the continuity of so long a document, interesting though it certainly is:

To the Public.

On the morning of the 13th of August, eleven surgeons of volunteer regiments arrived in Washington from Richmond, where they had been prisoners of war, and from which place they were allowed to depart on giving the Parole of Honor, usual in war, not to serve again in the Army of the United States, unless released or exchanged. I was one of those surgeons.

On the afternoon of the day of our arrival, an article appeared in the Washington Star, a small, cheap paper of Washington City, in terms as follows:

The oligarchy authorities are trying to get rid of the burden of feeding prisoners in their hands by discharging them on parole. This morning twenty-four (made prisoners after the battle of Bull Run) reached here. They left Richmond on the day before yesterday, and were sent by rail to our lines near Fortress Monroe. The following is a copy of the obligation forced on them, viz.:

“We, the undersigned officers, non-commissioned officers, privates and citizens of the United States, do make our unqualified parole of honor that we will not, by arms, information or otherwise, during the existing hostilities between the United States and the Confederate States of America, aid or abet the enemies of the said Confederate States, or any of them, in any form or manner whatsoever, until released or exchanged.

“Brig.-Gen. C.S.A.

“AUGUST 11, 1861.”

We presume that those who gave such a parole will be shipped to their homes without delay, as such men will clearly be worse than useless in any military service.

The following is a list of the returning Surgeons among the lot, viz.:

Foster Swift, Eighth New York; J.H. Stewart, First Minnesota; J.M. Lewis, Second Wisconsin; Eugene Benquet, Seventy-first New York; Chas S. De Graw, Eighth New York; and G.H. Winston, Eighth New York.

The Assistant-Surgeon of the First Minnesota Regiment refused, to his credit be it said, to accept the parole, and remains a prisoner at Richmond.

The whole party were threatened with popular violence repeatedly on their way from Richmond to Fortress Monroe.

Though the paragraph in the above article in relation to the “Assistant Surgeon of the Minnesota First” refusing to accept his parole, “to his credit be it said,” made it pretty transparent that the intention was principally to stab at the “Surgeon of the Minnesota First,” and by the comparison to discredit him, I nevertheless concluded to take no notice of the falsehood and inferential slander, knowing that time rights all things, and that truth generally prevails in the long run. But some of the other surgeons, however, thought it advisable to speak to the editor about it. They informed me that he apologized for its insertion, stating that the facts had been misrepresented to him; and the editor would have corrected it in his own columns if he had been required to do so; but, as the other papers, including the New York press, had made a more just and accurate representation of the circumstances under which we had given our parole, and had also omitted the personal stab aimed especially at me, it was not deemed of enough consequence to ask for a formal retraction in the Star.

It seems, however, that the same article, just as it originally appeared, was carefully saved up by some one here in St. Paul, who is the fit ally of the hidden slanderer in Washington, and that it is launched at me by a republication in the Pioneer the next morning after my arrival in St. Paul, no doubt intending it as my welcome home, after a tour of hard service in the field, in which I most certainly endeavored to perform my whole duty to the country and the men of the Regiment of which I was Surgeon, without counting risks, or halting at sacrifices, pecuniary or personal.


Now, Mr. Editor, I am not particularly thin-skinned, and can stand any moderate amount of ordinary newspaper abuse; but this imputation sought to be cast upon me is so outrageously unfair and unjust, that I cannot forbear asking you to grant me some considerable space in your paper for the detail of facts of an interesting character, which, I think, will exonerate me before the public, and show that I perhaps deserve their praise instead of censure.


On the 21st of July, the day of the battle of Bull Run, and some time after noon, as the Minnesota First was near the battle-field and just about entering upon it to assume the position where it fought so gallantly, the Chief Medical Director informed me that he wished me to establish my hospital at Sudley Church, situated near the battle-field, and where we could get plenty of water for the wounded, and also directed me to send forward my Assistant Surgeon, together with the hospital attendants, members of the Band, ambulances, litters, stretchers, &c., immediately in the rear of the regiment, so as to convey to me the wounded as soon as the temporary dressings had been applied on the field by my Assistant – as all the amputations, and such other operations as might be necessary, were to be performed exclusively at the hospital.


Having sent forward the assistants and ambulances, there being as yet no duty for me to perform, I went upon the battle field, and was immediately in the rear of my regiment when it first came under and returned fire.


The first man of our regiment brought to me wounded had his arm nearly shot off, and I took him in an ambulance and went with him to the Church Hospital; and before I got his arm dressed the wounded were poured in thick upon me, until I had all and more than I could attend to, especially as no temporary dressings had been applied to the men on the field!


While working among my wounded – there being at that time over fifty of our brave Minnesotians stretched bleeding and ghastly upon the grass, under the trees of the beautiful grove wherein the hospital was located, a mounted officer of Gen. McDowell’s staff suddenly rode up to the door of the church and loudly cried out to us: – “We’re whipped to death – a retreat has been ordered – retreat immediately!”


At this moment this was the condition of things at the church. There were in it, or lying immediately around it, on the grass, nearly five hundred wounded soldiers, nearly four hundred of which were our own men – all moaning and groaning with pain – some calling for “Water,” “Water,” “Just one drop of cold water!” Others, “O Doctor, come stop this bleeding or I’ll blead to death!” – “For God’s sake, Doctor, come and take off this arm,” or “this leg,” or “take out this ball,” &c.


When the officer was heard by them ordering the Surgeons and hospital attendants to “retreat” along with the army, I was in the midst of our Minnesota boys, attending to them, and the poor fellows cried out to me, “If you are going to leave us kill us first, the enemy will bayonet us as they did the wounded before” (referring to the skirmish of the 18th) and “Don’t let us live to be butchered by them;” while some of the enemies’ wounded, mainly Alabamians and Carolinians, also begged “For God’s sake, don’t leave us to die, without our wounds dressed, because we’re enemies.”


I replied to our Minnesota boys, that “I disbelieved the reports that the enemy bayoneted the wounded, and that in no event would I leave them or obey the order to retreat — this they might rely upon.”


Having thus calmed them somewhat, I went into the Church and got together with the other Surgeons, about twenty-five in all, and a brief consultation was had as to what we should do; when all but five or six concluded to run, and some of them forthwith went off at a double quick without so much as taking their instruments.


For myself I feel no regret that I deemed it my duty to be one of the few who deliberately stayed rather than the many who saved themselves from imprisonment, or from the necessity of giving their parole, by quickly retiring and leaving the wounded to bleed and expire unaided, at least by them.

If such conduct on my part be treason, the malignant souls, professional or what not, here, or at Washington, who covertly strike at me in newspapers or otherwise, may make the most of it.

I have only to say to those who were bereaved and afflicted in this State, by that awful battle, that their dear ones who were wounded received, night and day, every attention I could bestow; and of those of our brave boys who died at Sudley Church, it may comfort their wives, mothers and sisters a little to know that they died in my arms, and that no stranger wiped the death damp from their brows, and caught their last earthly gaze, and laid them tenderly and gently down into their humble graves beneath the tall cypress trees near the battle field where in every breeze are sung the requiems of Minnesota’s dead, who manfully fought to preserve the integrity of our Republic, and died under the “old flag.”


But it may be alleged that I staid because I had not time to escape, or the means of going. To this I would answer that I might have left along with our own regiment (the last to retreat), which did not reach the church on their way back in good order from the battle field, until the consultation among the surgeons before referred to was over, and most of the retreating doctors had already left. Long after our regiment had gone, there was, likewise, plenty of time for me to have retreated, as from this period fully an hour elapsed before the enemy appeared at the church door, and cut off all escape had any one still intended to fly. Not only was there thus plenty of time in which to get away, but I had the means of rapid locomotion away from all imprisonment and all danger, to where no parole would be required of me – to Washington, instead of to Richmond – on a good horse, which ready saddled and fully equipped for the road, was standing awaiting me at the church door. I had only to mount and away, and no doubt would have been praised for a lucky dog, by those meaner sort of people who now censure me for not doing that which they, no doubt, would have done – run away from their duty.


But, to continue. Between six and seven o’clock the enemy appeared, (having by that time, it seems, found out he had a victory, or, at all events, that our Army was falling back.) I was outside the church on my knees extracting a Minie ball out of the head of an Alabamian, when a squad of cavalry rode up to the church. It was commanded by Lieut. Cummings, of Col. Stewart’s Virginia Cavalry, who, leaning from his horse and placing a pistol at my head, and cocking it with a sort of disagreeable “click,” said: “I demand you to surrender.”


I had just cut down to the ball and felt indignant at his treatment, especially as he saw me engaged so busily. I drew my head out of the range of his pistol and said to him sharply: “Use a little more care in the handling of that article, as my experience the past few hours makes me extremely sensitive to the even careless use of fire arms.” He retorted, “God d — n your soul, answer me more civil, or I will put a bullet through your head!”

This piece of agreeable information, accompanied by his very prepossessing appearance and amiable manner, induced me to request him, politely, to defer that little operation until I had completed mine – my language being: “Just wait, Sir, first, until I extract this bullet out of this patient’s head, as he is one of your own men, of the Fourth Alabama.”

He immediately replied, “I beg your pardon,” and did manage to wait until I had extracted the ball.


In a few seconds I had the Minie in my hand, and the Lieutenant then very politely asked me if “I would give my word of honor not to escape.”

I replied, “I have voluntarily remained to take care of my wounded, and, of course, will not leave them,” and I so pledged myself.

He then wished me to pledge that “none of the other Surgeons and attendants would escape.”

I said, “they could speak for themselves – I would call them out of the church.”

I went in and called them out. He rode up to the door and asked them “to give their parole not to escape,” which they readily did.


I might as well here mention that, some fifteen minutes previous to Lieut. Cumming’s arrival, I had told my orderly, private Williams, to take my horse and make his escape, if he could, but the same cavalry had intercepted his retreat by a short cut, and brought both him and the horse to the hospital with them, which was the last I saw of either until I met Mr. Williams a prisoner in the tobacco warehouse at Richmond.


Having in this manner formally surrendered, the attending Surgeons busied themselves taking care of the wounded during all of Sunday night and all of Monday, but in the afternoon of Monday we were notified by Col. Stewart, of the Virginia Cavalry, that the orders from head-quarters were to take us to Gen. Beauregard, at Manassas Junction, some ten miles distant; for which point five or six of us were started at between five and six o’clock in a small one horse two wheeled, rickety old ambulance or cart, with the bottom partly out, no seats, over a miserable road, the night very dark, and the rain pouring down in torrents, as it had been doing ever since the latter part of Sunday night, and continued in fact to do so most incessantly until Tuesday morning. On our journey we were under the charge of Lieut. Cummings and a squad of his cavalry. Along with us, following in the rear, was another ambulance, a two horse, four-wheeled affair, loaded with other prisoners, non-medical officers of our army.


Our course of travel lay over the battle field and on the road leading from it. As long as daylight permitted us to see, which was until we reached to within three miles or so of Manassas, we noticed that the dead of the enemy, men and horses, were continually scattered, and yet unburied, over the whole route, and that squads of rebels were busy hunting up their wounded, placing them in common transportation wagons without springs, and sending them forward to the Junction.


At intervals we would be challenged by parties of their irregular cavalry, and two or three times were stopped, and it was demanded of us “who we were,” and “where we were going,” in every case meeting with the most gross, wanton and ferocious insults and curses from the “chivalry.” Nor did we receive this savage treatment from coarse, uneducated, uncultivated men. The worst case occurred while we were being driven some few rods in advance of our escort, which had stopped behind for a few moments, for some purpose or other. A horseman with a rifle slung across his shoulder, rode up in front and compelled us to stop, and asked who we were and where we were going; and, though by his language, evidently a man of education, and one who could probably, on a pinch, put on the outside manners of civilization, he commenced a barbarian tirade of abuse, calling us d — d lazy Yankee s–s of b —- s, “why don’t you go and bury your dead and gather up your wounded; you ought to be shot;” – making at the same time a motion as if he would unsling his rifle from his shoulder. Being prisoners, unarmed, in the midst of the enemy, several of his “chivalric” fellows, over whom he seemed to have some command, having come up in the meantime, of course there was nothing for us to do but explain, as we did, quietly and calmly, though our blood was boiling, that we were prisoners of war, without volition of our own, that we had solicited permission to go upon the field and attend to our wounded and dead, but the Confederate commanders had refused us.


I would here observe particularly that this was the fact – we had formally asked the rebel officers who came to us at Sudley Church, some of them of high position, to allow us to search the battle field over for our wounded and dead; but was peremptorily and altogether refused. I would likewise state in this connection, that the rebel loss in killed and wounded was very heavy – by their own admission to us surgeons, much heavier than our own, as well on account of the superiority of our arms, all minie rifles and muskets, and the more skillful practice of our artillery and small arms (they complimented the shooting of the Minnesotians) as from the fact that they thought they were going to be defeated in the early part of the battle and undertook to remove their wounded ten miles to Manassas, which, over such a road and in common lumber wagons, occasioned a great fatality, especially as minie bullets make no trifle of a wound. The refusal to let us go over the field was, perhaps, dictated somewhat by a reluctance to allow us to see the extent of their loss and, partly, that we should not view their position, which they did not know but they would require immediately again for another battle; for it is a fact, that they did not know of the panic which seized our whole army, nor the extent of its demoralization, and that for several days they were daily and nightly in expectation of our advance again, with reinforcements.


But to resume. Lieut. Cummings having come up, further explained our purpose in travelling to Manassas to the cowardly Virginian who could so grossly insult men in our situation; and we then proceeded on our journey without further molestation. It was about here we were told that two of our wounded men had been picked up, and were in one of the lumber wagons; from which we heard them ordered to be transferred to the covered ambulance behind us, and taken along with us to the Junction; but we did not see them, not being allowed to get out of our vehicle.


We reached Manassas about 10 o’clock; and, after waiting there in the cart about two hours, in the rain, were ordered to get out, and go up on the long porch of the little low, old fashioned country house, where Beauregard had his headquarters.


On the porch a table was set, and being invited to partake of viands, we sat down and drank of its coffee and eat of its crackers (all there was) with, on my part, an appetite slightly enhanced by my nearly forty hours of enforced abstinence from all food, and by our wet to the skin and shivering condition generally. Supper over, and mid-night having come, an Aid of Beauregard appeared and said he was very sorry we were brought down – it was done under a mistake – and as it was late the General could not see us before morning. Anathematizing such a “mistake” to the bottom of our hearts, we were next shown into a small neighboring barn, where, in the midst of wounded and dying Confederates, and of the members of the guard not on duty, we laid down on the barn floor, on which was a slight sprinkling of hay, and without covering of any kind, and our clothes all wet through, slept, or tried to sleep, until morning; but the cursing and quarreling amongst the guard, and the changing of sentinels every two or three hours, “murdered sleep” most effectually.


In the morning, on going from the barn over to Beauregard’s head-quarters, I passed in the barn-yard, the four wheeled ambulance which had accompanied us from the battle field the night before. Observing that two men were lying in it, I looked in curiously to see who they were, when to my astonishment, I found them to be two of our own “boys” – private Cannon, of Company I, (the same whose wounded leg Capt. Pell, when ordered so peremptorily to retreat, stopped behind to bind up before he left him) and Corporal Pierson, of Company B, of Stillwater, who had received two balls through his right thigh, fracturing the bone. The astonishment of the poor fellows even surpassed my own, for they did not imagine I was within fifty miles of them; and the joy of all three of us at the meeting cannot be adequately expressed. They had lain out in the rain on the field all Sunday night and managed to crawl during Monday between two and three miles from where they fell, towards Manassas, to the spot where the rebels had picked them up. They were the same two men we had ordered to be transferred to the ambulance, on our night journey, in which they were compelled to sleep all night, having their blankets to cover them. I immediately procured their removal to one of the Confederate hospitals, where I dressed their wounds, and left them pretty comfortable, and I did not behold them again until I saw them at a hospital in Richmond, some two weeks afterwards; and when I left the city to come home, Cannon was nearly recovered, and Pierson doing as well as could be expected of a man with a fractured thigh,


Returning to our quarters in the barn, we partook of breakfast, consisting of cold cooked flitch and crackers, but without drink, all of which we understood had been sent us from the General’s quarters.


We were now waited upon by Col. Preston, one of Beauregard’s staff, who brought the parole, before quoted, and so much carped at, for us to sign.

Holding the paper in his hand, Col. Preston said to us: “Gentlemen, I have here for your signatures, the parole usually required of prisoners of war; and the surgeons only are to be allowed to sign it.” (There were other of our Army officers present.)

He then read it to us. After he had finished the reading, the privilege was asked of examining and reading it for ourselves. It was handed to us, and being satisfied as to its exact nature, I asked for the rest that we might take it with us, and retire by ourselves and consult as to what we should do. Col. Preston replied, “Certainly, take what time you want.”


On this we went inside the barn, and in one corner of it, by ourselves, held our consultation. In about fifteen minutes we returned, and addressed him as follows:

“Sir, will you allow us to return to Sudley Church, and attend to our wounded there, and wait a few days before signing this parole, to see if our Government does not send to make arrangements for our protection, for the burial of our dead and the care of our wounded?”

Colonel P. – (with emphasis) answered, “No! I am authorized to present this parole for your signatures now – and cannot promise that another opportunity will be afforded for this purpose after this morning; the object of your signing it is to allow you to return and take care of your wounded if you desire to do so.”

The conversation was further carried on by myself, as senior Surgeon, speaking for the rest as follows:

Surgeon – “Is signing that parole the only condition on which we will be allowed to go back and attend to our wounded?”

Colonel P. – “It is, Sir.”

Surgeon – “What disposition is to be made of us if we do not sign it?”

Colonel P. – “I am not authorized to say – I am only authorized to speak with you as to your signing this parole – to the medical officers only.”

Surgeon – “We ask you, then (not in your official capacity in this particular duty but) as an officer, what will be done with us if we do not sign it?”

Colonel P. – “You are prisoners of war, and prisoners of war are placed under guard and sent to Richmond at once.”


We now asked and obtained permission to again retire and consult together.

A good deal of feeling entered into our private discussions.

Two questions presented themselves. Four or five hundred of our wounded were lying in a critical condition in the Hospitals near the battle field, needing all our care and attention. If we signed the parole we could go back and attend to them, relieve their sufferings, and save the most of them from dying the death otherwise most probably inevitable. But, on the other hand, if we signed it, it practically cuts us off from our positions in the Army; and our chances of being soon exchanged so as to resume them would be much less than if we remained prisoners of war in the enemy’s hands. If we refused, however, to sign at all, we would become such prisoners of war, would be removed to Richmond at once, and our wounded would be in a great degree sacrificed. Some of us felt that we would rather sacrifice ourselves than that; but before deciding we returned to Col. Preston, when this conversation took place:

Surgeon Stewart – “Colonel, we have as yet come to no decision; but the wounded of my regiment at the Sudley Church Hospital being as four to one of any other there – over fifty – and having followed them nearly 2,000 miles as their medical attendant, I feel that it is my duty to go back and attend to them at any and all sacrifices. I dislike very much to sign this parole; and though I will new do so, it is only and rather than leave my men to die uncared for, or to be attended to by strangers merely.”

Col. P. – “Doctor, this is a matter that rests entirely with you all – you understand, it is a voluntary matter.”

I made no reply to this cool observation of that being a voluntary act to which they forced us by a combination of inexorable circumstances; but proceeded at once to sign the parole, in which I was followed by all my colleagues, the Surgeons of the Sudley Church Hospital.


We were then returned to cur Hospital at the battle field, our return being made in a more comfortable vehicle, and by a different route from that by which we had come.


On our arrival we were distressed to find that during our absence of about twenty four hours only, nearly twenty of our men had died, some of whom would almost certainly have been saved if the surgeons had not been removed so long away from them; and this melancholy fact confirmed us in the opinion that we had pursued the true path of duty in subscribing to the only course by which we were still allowed to give these who yet remained alive the benefit of all the skill and nursing we could bestow.


Thus we continued to do for some two weeks longer, when the Confederates deemed them sufficiently recovered to be removed to Richmond; and the next day they also compelled us to follow to the same city.


It is possible there are some who will think this tour of duty at Sudley Church was a pleasant one. After the rebels took their wounded away, there still remained between three and four hundred of our men to be cared for. The rain being over by Tuesday morning, the weather grew exceedingly warm, and the sun very powerful, and the whole atmosphere became loaded with the odor of decaying mortality from the unburied dead of the battle field, to which was added for our own immediate discomfort, the fetor from so many festering wounds immediately around us in the hospital. Besides this inconvenience, we had severe and exhausting labor day and night, and we had besides, for days after the battle, to provide sustenance for ourselves and men by sending out and purchasing food in the neighboring country, the surgeons contributing of their own private means as a fund for this purpose – without which we should all have starved. It was nearly a week before the Confederate commissariat became sufficiently organized and plentiful to ration us.


I would here say, in the spirit of awarding sheer justice even to enemies and traitors, that the officers of the enemy who visited us at the Church, all treated us well and considerately; and I may say the same of all their officials, the military, with whom we came in contact everywhere, saving and excepting the senior official before mentioned, who was superintending the collection of the wounded on the battle field, and excepting also the lower state of their mob, and the women of all ranks.


On reaching Manassas on our way to Richmond, we were stopped at headquarters, and had an interview with Beauregard, by whom we were politely treated, and who ascribed the condition our wounded had so soon attained to our remaining to take care of them. He then endorsed upon our parole the following:


The parole of these surgeons was taken to prevent the necessity of guarding them while they were attending to the enemy’s wounded, with the understanding that it was to be continued by the War Department after leaving here, and that they were to be permitted to return to their homes when their service would be no longer required, on the ground that they were non-combatants, and might have got off if they had imitated their fellow-officers.

(Signed,) P.G.T. BEAUREGARD,
General Commanding.


We were then placed in charge of a Lieutenant, and conveyed by railroad to Richmond; and after remaining there some several days were forwarded to Norfolk, and thence from Fortress Monroe to Washington City.


Here our conduct was generally approved by the Government, and especially approved by our acting Surgeon General, who told us he “was proud of us – we had nobly sustained the honor and credit of the profession;” and he at once granted us a furlough to recruit our health and energies for three months, unless by an exchange of prisoners we could be sooner ordered into active service.


One more matter, and I have done. An invidious comparison has been attempted to be instituted between Dr. Le Boutillier, the Assistant Surgeon, and myself, to my disadvantage. The statement of a few facts will put this all right before the public. The last I saw of Dr. Le Boutillier, until I met him in Richmond, was on the day of the battle, just before I ordered up the ambulances, and just as the regiment was going on the battle field; at which time he had with him a knapsack containing bandages for temporarily dressing the wounded on the field, and some stimulating beverages to enable those wounded who were very faint to reach the hospital. When the wounded began to come in freely upon me, noticing that no temporary bandages had been applied, I asked “what the Assistant Surgeon was doing?” and was told that he was gallantly fighting, having a musket, and was cheering on and rallying the men. The next news that came reported him wounded, and the next, that he was killed; and in this last belief I rested until two or three days after the battle, when on being introduced to a Confederate cavalry officer as the “Surgeon of the Minnesota First,” he remarked, that on the evening of the battle, between the battle field and Centreville, and between two and three miles distant from the former he had captured a man who, on being taken stated that he was the “Assistant Surgeon of the Minnesota First,” but that, as he had no uniform or commission, he had not credited him, and had sent him on with other prisoners to Richmond. From his description, I had no doubt it was Dr. LeB., and so told the officer. On reaching Richmond, I was exceedingly glad to greet once more, in life and health, my missing medical colleague; for, though a prisoner in the tobacco warehouse, he was safe and sound, without a wound, and in seemingly excellent health; and being duly recognized as a medical man, was assisting in attending the Federal wounded, who had just been brought to Richmond from our hospital.

When he found the Surgeons of our party were about leaving for home on their parole, he very naturally evinced an anxiety to accompany us; and expressed the belief that as soon as the surgeons left behind had got the wounded further on, and in good condition, the same privilege would be extended to him, when he would promptly avail himself of it, and that he would “probably not be more than two or three weeks behind me.” I said I thought so, too; and we bid each other good by, and parted.

This is the truth; and no one will be more surprised, when he hears it, at the falsehood in relation to his “refusing his parole!” than will the brave Assistant Surgeon of the Minnesota First.


And this is all I have to say, except to recommend those jealous, carping, fault-finding busy bodies, who are ever suggesting something wrong in the First Regiment, in its officers, its organization, or something else, that they had better enlist to carry a musket in the service of their country, than to be thus cruelly damaging the cause by slandering its defenders.

Surgeon of the First Minnesota Regiment.

(St. Paul, MN) Pioneer and Democrat, 8/30/1861

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Contributed and transcribed by John Hennessy

Dr. Jacob Henry Stewart at

Dr. Jacob Henry Stewart at Fold3

Dr. Jacob Henry Stewart at FindAGrave

Jacob Henry Stewart at Wikipedia

Account of Asst. Surgeon Charles W. Le Boutillier

Pvt. Harry Rockafeller, Co. F, 71st New York State Militia, On His Captivity

23 02 2022

Letter from a Prisoner at Manassas. –

The following letter from a young Philadelphian serving in the New York Seventy-first, who was wounded and captured in the late battle, has been received in New York by his mother. As he was in the hospital at Sudley Church, this letter, giving assurance of his safety, also gives assurance that the report of the burning of the church is untrue:

Manassas Junction, July 26th, 1861.

Dear Mother: – Knowing your deep anxiety regarding my welfare, I am happy to say that I am well, except a wound in the left arm, which I may lose. I am in good spirits, treated in the best style, and am in hopes of seeing you all soon. If you have any opportunity of sending a change of clothing please, do so.

Truly your son,
Harry Rockafeller

The Baltimore (MD) Sun, 8/3/1861

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Records for Harry/Henry Rocka/efeller show below, but as a member of the 71st New York Infantry, Co. F. No Rockafeller shows on the roster of the 71st New York Infantry (not present at First Bull Run). State Militia records are notoriously spotty, particularly for militia units that did not enter 3 year service (like the 71st and 69th). As both records showing Rocka/efeller in the 71st NYVI are handwritten, and as Rockefeller’s FindAGrave notes that he was the post-war Colonel of the 71st NYSM, he is considered here a member of Co. F, 71st NYSM at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Henry Rockafeller at Ancestry

Henry Rockafeller at Fold3

Harry Rockefeller at FindAGrave

Pvt. Bernard Reynolds, Co. A, 69th New York State Militia, On the Battle and Captivity

20 02 2022

An Irish Prisoner.

A member of the 69th regiment, (Col. Corcoran’s) now a prisoner in Richmond, writes the following letter to his brother in Augusta, Georgia:

New Alms Hospital,
Richmond, Va., July 30, 1861.

Dear Pat: I wrote you a few lines last week, which a gentleman either posted or took with him, as he resided near Augusta. I know you were surprised to hear that I was in Richmond wounded; but if we had got our rights I would have been in New York the day the battle was fought, our term of service having expired the day the before, but old Abe or Scott would not let the regiment go home. Well, it served us right, when we were fools enough to fight in such a cause; but I hope the time will come when Irishmen will mind their own business.

Early in the fight I got a ball in the thigh, which broke the bone. I lay on the field 35 hours, a rain falling most of the time, and might have laid there since, if it was not for the kindness of the Southerners – enemies I cannot call them, for they have treated us more like brothers than anything else. I got a hard shaking on the railroad, but now, thank God! I am very comfortable here. I expect to have my leg set to-day. If it is, I hope to recover soon, when I will be a much wiser man.

Owing to the great number of wounded I could not be attended sooner; besides the doctor was afraid of mortification; but I think I am now safe, and that, with God’s help, I will have the use of my leg.

Dear Pat, you could not believe the way our soldiers were treated by Scott. There were eight regiments on the field whose time was up, but could not get home. – But, worse than all, they left the dead and wounded on the field, and never sent a flag of truce in to know how or what would become of us. It is Colonel Corcoran I blame for keeping us; he is now a prisoner here. Many is the heavy curse he got from wounded and dying men. I wish you could send a letter to my wife, poor creature; probably thinks me dead. She lives at 212, West 26th street. Direct, care of Thos. Kiernan. Tall her I hope to be with her soon; also, that I am well treated; get meat three times a day, and splendid soup at dinner time.

I remain, dear Pat, your affectionate brother,
B. R.*

Yorkville (SC) Enquirer, 8/15/1861

* Pvt. Bernard Reynolds is the only 69th NYSM POW found with these initials.

Clipping Image

69th NYSM Roster

Bernard Reynolds at Ancestry

Bernard Reynolds at Fold3