U. S. Congressmen on Blackburn’s Ford

13 12 2022

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN.

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ACCOUNT BY CONGRESSIONAL EYE-WITNESSES.

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Defeat of the Federals.

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JEALOUSY BETWEEN MILITARY AND CIVILIAN OFFICERS.

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TYLER AND McDOUGAL AT LOGGERHEADS.

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MASKED BATTERIES AND RIFLE PITS.

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RAPID RETREAT OF CONGRESSIONAL AMATEURS.

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SUPERIOR FIGHTING MATERIAL OF SOUTHERNERS.

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BEAUREGARD’S POSITION TOO STRONG TO BE TAKEN BY THE NORTHERN ARMY.

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Excesses Committed by Federal Troops.

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The following account comes through our occasional correspondent at Washington, on whom we have great reliance:

The following account on the battle of Bull’s Run is given by honorables Wm. A. Richardson, John A. McClernand, of Ill., and John W. Noel, of Missouri (all members of the house), qho were eyewitnesses of the battle, and aided in several instances of bearing from the field members of the New York 12th, who were wounded.

The action commenced under the direction of Gen. Tyler, of Connecticut, at half-past one o’clock on Thursday afternoon at Bull Run, three miles from Centreville, between several companies of skirmishers attached to the Massachusetts First, and a masked battery situated on a slight eminence. The skirmishers retreated rapidly and were succeeded in the engagement by Sherman’s battery and two companies of regular cavalry, which after continuing the contest for some time were supported by the New York 12th, First Maine, Second Michigan, First Massachusetts and a Wisconsin regiment, when the battle was waged, with great earnestness, continuing until five o’clock. The Federal troops were then drawn back in great confusion beyond the range of the Confederate batteries, here they bivouacked for the night.

During the conflict the Michigan, Maine and Wisconsin regiments held their ground with a fortitude which, in view of the galling fire to which they were exposed, was most remarkable, but […] regiments retired in great disorder from the field, a portion of them throwing away knapsacks, and even their arms in their flight. A number of members of the former regiments openly asserted that their confused retreat was the fault of their officers, who evinced a total lack of courage, and were the first to flee.

After the retreat had been commenced, Corcoran’s New York 69th (Irish) and Cameron’s New York 79th (Scotch) regiments were ordered up to the support, but arrived too late to take part in the action.

There were three batteries in all. The first to open fire, which was the smallest, was situated on the top of an eminence; the second and most destructive, in a ravine, The latter was totally concealed from view by brushwood, etc., and it was in attempting to take the first by assault that the Federal troops stumbled upon it. The battle occurred at a point in the declivity of the road, where it makes a turn, forming an obtuse angle, and the third battery was so placed as to enfilade with its fire the approaches towards the junction.

Much jealousy, it is stated by the same authority, existed between the regular officers and those of the volunteer corps, each appearing desirous of shifting to the other side the responsibility of any movement not advised by themselves, and the jealousy, it is feared, will seriously affect the efficiency of the “grand army.” Thus, General McDowell expressly states that the battle was not his own, but that of General Tyler. The former officer said that he would not advance further until he had thoroughly and carefully reconnoitered the position of the batteries, their capabilities, etc; and the inference derived by my informants from his remarks, it that he deems his present force entirely insufficient to carry the opposition before him.

One of the gentlemen mentioned at the commencement of this account, gives it as his opinion that Manassas Junction cannot be carried by 50,000 men in two months, and all agreed in saying that the force under Beauregard has been entirely underrated numerically, and that their fighting qualities are superior. The cheers with which they rushed to the fight frequently rang above the din of the battle. Their numbers were not ascertained, but it is estimated that upwards of 5,000 South Carolinians, under command of Gen. M. L. Bonham, of South Carolina.

Their artillery was of the bestkind. A shot from one of their batteries severed a bough from a tree quite 2 miles distant, and but a few feet from where the vehicle of two Congressmen was standing. Our ball fell directly in the midst of a group of Congressmen, among whom was Owen Lovejoy, but injured no one, the members scampering in different directions, sheltering among trees, &c.,

It is said to have been admirably served too, as the heavy list of killed, and the disabling of Sherman’s battery, amply testifies.

There were a number of rifle pits also in front of the batteries, from which much execution was done by expert riflemen.

The Congressmen were greatly impressed with the extent and magnitude of the earth-works, entrenchments, &c., erected by the Confederates from Alexandria to Centreville and beyond. They were all of the most formidable and extensive character.

It is thought by them that Manassas Junction is encircled by a chain of batteries, which can only be penetrated by severe fighting. All the entrenchments evidence consummate skill in their construction. The entire column under General McDowell fell back at 8 o’clock on Thursday evening, a short distance from Centreville, where they encamped. They were joined during the evening by Heintzelman’s command, and on the succeeding morning by that of Col. Burnside, all of which troops are now encamped here.

Early in the evening Gen. Schenck’s brigade of Ohio troops was sent forward on the Hainesville road to flank the batteries, but no tidings had been heard from them up to 8 o’clock yesterday (Friday) morning, when the Congressmen left Gen. McDowell’s headquarters, bring with them his despatches to the War Department.

These dispatches put the loss of the Federalists in killed at 5, but Mr. McClernand sates that he himself saw a greater number than that killed. All of these gentlemen agree in estimating the number of killed at one hundred. The disparity between the statements of these gentlemen and the official despatches is accounted for by the fact that the latter are based upon the returns of the surgeons, and that many of the killed are oftentimes never reported until after the publication of the official accounts.

One remarkable fact which commended the special attention of the members of Congress was the absence from the portion of Virginia visited by them of all the male inhabitants capable of bearing arms. They state that they saw but few people, and those were chiefly old women and children – The women seemed to regard the soldiers with bitter hostility, and, to quote the language of one of the Congressmen, their “eyes fairly flashed fire whenever they looked at a soldier.”

General McDowell expressed no fears of being attacked, but seemed apprehensive of some of the volunteer corps stumbling upon a masked battery, and this “precipitating a general engagement.”

The loss of the Confederates is not known, but is conjectured by the Federalists to have been heavy. Among the killed is said to be one Col. Fountain – at least, a negro, deserted, so stated.

The excesses of the Federal troops in Virginia are exciting general indignation among army officers. A member of Congress, who visited the scene this morning, states that the village of Germantown has been entirely burnt, with the exception of one house, in which lay a sick man, who had been robbed, he was told, by an army surgeon of nearly every article he possessed of the slightest value, even to his jack-knife.

Gen. McDowell has issued orders that the first soldier detected in perpetrating these depredations shall be shot, and has ordered that a guard be placed over the principal residences of any town the troops may enter.

The (Baltimore, MD) Daily Exchange, 7/20/1861

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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.

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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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Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, On His Feelings Under Fire

30 11 2022

Camp Bartow, near Manassas,
August 13, 1861.

Dear Courier: As everything in the way of news, incidents, accidents, &c., pertaining to the great battle of the 21st, is eagerly sought for by all who have relatives or friends in the Confederate Army, and as this includes nearly every family member in the country, the writer of this is so presumptious as to undertake “a description of one’s feelings in the battle of Manassas – it being his first experience.”

Though at different times and places our Regiment had been, some six or eight times, drawn up in line of battle, and we had gone through all the little heart sinkings, trepidations and fearful apprehensions, which most men experience, upon the eve of entering the life and death contest, yet, when we knew that a great battle was about to be commenced, yet there was such a deep and thrilling earnestness in the cannon’s first booming, as convinced us of the certainty of the fearful work about to be done, and a deep seated apprehension of danger – though not generally shown by palid cheeks or trembling limbs – was experienced. The certainty of danger became still more apparent, when coming near the range of one of the enemy’s batteries, we heard the whizzing of the death dealing missiles, as they passed with a horrid significance of what we might expect from better aim.

The “pomp and circumstance of glorious war,” suddenly dwindled down to the severest kind of plain, common sense, and it very soon became apparent, that common sense rules must be the basis of all discreet actions. At the first sight of the enemy, all the bug bear delusions that may have existed in the fancy of any one, as to their appearance, were suddenly dispelled, and they looked at the distance of three hundred or four hundred yards, precisely like so many of our men.

Quite different from all my fancies of great battles; this was not fought in a broad open field, where the two grand armies could be drawn up in long, unbroken lines, and approach each other in heavy columns. There is no considerable extent of right level ground on this memorable field, but is completely broken with hills and dales, meandering branches and protecting groves. And in extent, the hottest part of the battle field was about one miles by three quarters in width. On such a field, of course, the awful grandeur of appearance of the approaching armies was lost. Then when the firing commenced, that wonderful, indefinite and superhuman grandeur of movements, that my imagination had painted, all faded out, and in its place I had an ugly, dusty, fatiguing and laborious realization of the actual in battle. I experienced most fear when the first cannon ball passed over, with a tremendous whizzing, about twenty yards off; and felt the most dread apprehension, when ordered immediately after, to take a position on a little eminence, in fearful proximity to the place the ball had just passed. After our Regiment had moved forward some 200 or 300 yards, we again came both in range and sight of Sherman’s celebrated Battery, about three-fourths of a mile from us. Their shell and balls came fearfully near, and as one passed through an apple tree just over my head, a cold chill ran over me, and I suffered from agonizing fear, for probably, three or four seconds, but after this, during the entire battle, though I was in almost constant expectation of being killed, yet there was no painful realization of fear, such as would make one hesitate to ge wherever duty called, or prevented a full and free exercise of all the faculties of body and mind. As the dangers really increased, and friends were seen falling thick upon either side, the apprehension, or rather the fear, of them became strangely less, and without feeling secure there was a sort of forced resignation to calmly abide whatever consequences should come.

At no time did I experience any feeling of anger, or discover any exhibition of it in others. A stern determination and inflexible purpose, was the predominant expression of countenance of all, so far as my observation extended, and any sudden exhibition of passion would have seemed ridiculous.

One of the most remarkable mental phenomena, was the sudden and strange drying up of sympathetic feeling for the suffering of the wounded and dying. I could never before look upon even small operations, or persons in extreme pain from any cause, especially when blood was freely flowing, without intense pain and generally more or less faintness. But on this occasion I beheld the most terrible mutilations, the most horrid and ghastly expression of men in the death struggle, men with one arm or a leg, shot off, others with the face horribly mutilated, heads shot through and brains lying about, bodies half torn into, and at the hospital, some 50 men with legs or arms jut amputated and a half cord of legs and arms, and men in all degrees of pain, from the slight flesh wound to those producing death in a few moments, and viewed all this with far less feeling that I would ordinarily have seen brutes thus mutilated. This obduracy I am truly glad, was only temporary. Only two days after the battle I caught myself avoiding the amputation of an arm.

I have written thus much of my own feelings, not because they were peculiar, but according to my best knowledge and belief, were nearly the same as those shared by a great majority of all those who were in the heat of battle, for the first time, on the glorious 21st.

Our Regiment is now having an easy time. There is considerable slight sickness, but none dangerous that I know of. Dr. Miller has been appointed General Director of the Medical Board for our Brigade – the 2nd – but he still retains the office of Surgeon of the 8th Regiment.

M. D.

From Dear Courier: The Civil War Correspondence of Editor Melvin Dwinell, pp. 66-68

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Capt. Nathaniel H. R. Dawson, Co. C, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle, Casualties, and Aftermath

28 11 2022

Manassas, Virginia, July 24, 1861

We have in some measure recovered from the excitement following the battle, and I prepare to write you this morning, seated in a thicket, pencil in hand, some of the details of the late engagement –

We, the 4th Ala., with the 2d Miss. and 6th N. C. Rg., under Gen. Bee commenced the fight by attacking the advancing column of Yankees. Our reg. was supposed to attack 5,000 men and after keeping them in check for one hour, retreated, fell back upon the reserve. I was injured by a sprain in the ankle and missed the Reg. which was in advance and was not further engaged. About 200 of the reg. was collected but took no further active part in the battle. We have but about 200 killed and wounded. Among the former is Lieut. Simpson, whom you saw last winter in Montgomery. He was to be married to Miss Collier. We lost about 1,000 killed and wounded. The loss of the Yankees is incalculable as they were [illegible] for fifteen miles, all of their artillery – 50 pieces – 10,000 stand of arms, all of their hospital wagons, a large number of their baggage wagons, and a large number of prisoners have been taken. Their dead line the road all the way.

I walked over the battlefield the next day after the fight. The scene presented was horrible. I counted in one small spot – where Sherman’s battery was taken – thirty-seven horses that were dead and near one hundred dead yankees, besides the wounded who had been removed. Near this place is a house, an old lady 90 years of age was killed by a cannon ball. Her daughter told me this herself at the house. The dead presented an awful appearance, and I thought perchance that the fortunes of man might place me in a similar position. I have learned it seems, however, to think philosophically of these things and am inclined to the opinion that I am hard-hearted.

I have thought of you all the time, my own dear Elodie, have prayed that I might be spared to see you again, and so far my prayer has been granted, and I am deeply grateful to God. I am afraid you have been troubled by rumors of my injury, as Mr. [illegible] and Mr. Smith, members of congress from Alabama who came up from Richmond yesterday told me that it was reported I was killed. I telegraphed the Selma Reporter the day after the battle and yesterday again and wrote you the night of the battle of my safety and hope your apprehensions were not excited, but I almost regret that I was not wounded that I might have had an excuse for giving harm. But I am deeply thankful that so far I have escaped. Col. Jones, Col. Law, and Major Scott are all wounded. Gen. Bee was killed. I send you a flower plucked by me this morning from the spot. He was at the head of our regiment at the time, or the remnant. We lost 185 killed and wounded out of about 700 who went to battle.

You must write me at Manassas Junction, and I will get your letters. I will write you as often as possible. I have sent to Winchester for my trunk and will then have facilities. Excuse this miserable scrawl, but we are in the woods without tents or baggage.

Remember me to Mr. and Mrs. White. You are the idol of my heart, and I am so grateful for your love.

Adieu, dearest Elodie,
Ever and affectionately yours,
N. H. R. Dawson

From Practical Strangers: The Courtship Correspondence pf Nathaniel Dawson and Elodie Todd, Sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. pp. 141-143

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Unknown, Aide to Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, On the Retreat

21 11 2022

LETTER FROM ONE OF GENERAL McDOWELL’S AIDS

[From the Cincinnati Gazette, July 27]

From a letter of one of General McDowell’s aids, to his wife, we have been permitted to make some extracts, which are very creditable to the two Ohio regiments. The letter reveals something which we have not seen stated elsewhere. When the reserve advanced to support the advance, which at the time had driven the enemy some distance, it fired our own men and threw them into disorder. The writer says: –

The army was to move at two o’clock P. M., in two columns – one approaching the enemy direct and the other on his flanks. We all moved off in time, and the two columns reached their destined positions, as had been planned, and the engagement commenced in two places. The column in direct advance attacked them a long distance off, while the other column came around and commenced the attack on the side of the enemy. This flanking column drove the enemy from its place across the country for two miles, when our two columns made a junction. Then we made a general attack and drove the enemy off into the corner of open flats surrounded by woods. At this time our reserve came up, and opened their fire on our own men, which threw them into disorder; and just when we had completely whipped them from every position they had taken, our men were thrown into a panic by our troops firing on them, taking them for the enemy, for there was no way of telling friends from foes in the general engagement. And then came a sight – may I be spared from seeing such another! Two thousand men started, panic stricken, running through some five thousand who were on their way to assist them. The panic spread through the five thousand, and it was not in the power of human exertion to restrain them to form them into any kind of shape. Appeals of all kinds and threats were alike unheeded, and the only men unmoved were our regulars. They moved on in compact form, and fought the advancing enemy on one side, holding them in check, and on the other were our two Ohio regiments, supported by Captain Ayers’ battery, which kept the panic stricken men from being cut to pieces while trying to organize them into some shape on a plain opposite to where we had been so hotly engaged. I looked also on that plain and there was our small band of regulars, and the Ohio brigade, under Schenck, with Ayers’ battery, holding the enemy in check, and giving us time to draw off our disorganized mass of men, and then commenced a retreat. Our General is now subject to all the blame and disgrace a defeated General is made liable to. He is conscious of having done all that was in his power, and that, too, of the best officers in his army to assist him. In no one point did he allow any changes when he could by any means prevent. Two things he could not provide for: one was General Johnston’s army reinforcing Beauregard; and the other the undisciplined troops that were so easily demoralized and thrown into a panic. There is a vast difference between disciplined and undisciplined troops in a battle field. Our regulars and some of the volunteers, such as Burnsides’ brigade of Providence, Schenck’s Ohio brigade, the Connecticut brigade, and some of the Boston and New York Volunteer regiments did well, and all of these men were in the first of the engagement except the Ohio and Connecticut troops. The great mass of the troops were green men that had just come into the service, for the very morning we had our engagement some of the three months’ men marched from the field for home. This had a bad effect on our men.

We presume that this account will deepen the impression on every one’s mind that our men were required to do impossibilities. Their number was entirely inadequate for the undertaking. They beat the enemy wherever they met them, but they would have continued to fall back on successive lines of masked batteries and intrenchments, until our troops would have been overcome by fatigue and slaughter. The attack was brave and successful at the beginning, but it was an attack that never ought to have been made. Attacking formidable intrenchments with half the force may be heroic, but neither that nor waiting for their completion is strategy.

New York (NY) Herald, 7/30/1861

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Lt. George W. Lester, Co. F, and Corp. W. Edmund O’Connor, Co. A, Hampton’s Legion, And the Capture of “Sherman’s Battery”

9 04 2022

The Palmetto Flag Planted upon Sherman’s Battery. – A correspondent writes to the Richmond Enquirer correcting the statement that Gen. Beauregard had borne forward the flag of the Hampton Legion. He says:

The honor properly belongs to Lieut. G. W. Lester, of the “Davis Guards,” who, when the order for charge was given, bore the Palmetto colors about fifteen paces in front, calling on South Carolina to follow, which was promptly done. Corporal O’Connor, of the Washington Light Infantry, was the next to take it, and he it was who waved the first Southern flag over Sheman’s Battery.

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/14/1861

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Pvt. Alexander Whyte*, Co. B, 79th New York Infantry, On the Battle

22 03 2022

THE BATTLE AT BULL RUN.

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LETTER FROM A MEMBER OF THE SEVENTY-NINTH REGIMENT

Arlington Heights, July 23, 1861.

Dear Brother: – We attacked the rebels on Sunday. We got ready to march at two o’clock in the morning, and marched along another road from the one where the battery we attacked before was situated. We crossed a bridge which they thought was undermined, where we were put on a double quick for about a mile, to get out of range of the battery – the Seventy-ninth, Sixty-ninth, and the two Indiana regiments. Generals Sherman and Tyler were in command. They filed us into the woods and marched us right forward in line, and we scoured the woods and hunted the cowardly dogs into their dens. We then opened our batteries on the rebels, who were in large force all around us. We had three or four batteries with us, including Sherman’s. They shelled the woods, in which they had dozens of masked batteries, which seems to be their forte. The Sixty-ninth followed them up the hills, through gulleys, across streams waist deep, and the enemy playing on us from a dozen points with cannister and shell, but we ran double quick up the hills, where their infantry was waiting for us, when we fired and charged upon them, and drove them from their position and followed them up the same way till we dislodged them from three positions, when we were for the first time as high as they were. We then brought forward two of our batteries and fired a few shells, when Sherman ordered the infantry forward to the charge. The Sixty-ninth were sent round to the right of it to flank the rebels, and the Seventy-ninth, with the Second Wisconsin to back us, were sent up to the charge. This was after nearly every regiment except us, had been sent up and cut to pieces. However, we went forward and charged them, when they poured shell, canister and balls into us like hail; but the Second Wisconsin ran back, except about twelve men of them, which stood with us. The cowardly rebels then hoisted the American flag on one of their forts, when our men supposed our friends had taken it which went around to flank them out. The men then ran forward to follow them up; but when within a few yards of them they opened their guns again, and poured shell and canister right into us, and then thousands of infantry, firing at the same time, every one of them armed with rifles and us with old muskets, we had to fall back, and while retreating another masked battery opened upon us, and I can assure you we had a very hard time of it. When we were so close to the fort we could have taken it had the Second Wisconsin stood by us. The rebels then poured their cavalry out of the woods after us, when we had to fall back on the main body. They shot all the horses from our batteries, and we were unable to take them back, so the rebels took them and turned them against us, when we had not a single piece hardly to cover our retreat. Then the rebels poured a large force of infantry, about 6,000, to follow us up, and we without a single regiment in reserve, as we had to retreat all in confusion. The United States regulars, and those of Sherman’s battery cut the traces of their horses and galloped off, leaving their guns to the rebels.

From where the battle was fought to this place is about thirty miles, so we had a pretty long march of it. We commenced our retreat about four P. M. Sunday afternoon, and arrived in our camp Monday morning, so you can imagine how we must feel. But I must not forget our dear old Colonel. He was shot dear before we fired our second round; he stood out in front of us, and waving his sword, ordered us to charge bayonets, which were the last words he said. Nearly all of our officers were either killed, wounded or taken prisoners. We have but about eight left out of our complement. Thirty-five of our company are missing. All the other companies in proportion. Our captain is missing. We believe he is captured. The Sixty-ninth had their colors taken, but they gallantly retook them, with heavy loss. Their Colonel was wounded, and we believe is taken prisoner. Malcom was shot in the head, but not very serious. I found him in the hospital, which was full of wounded men. The last report we heard was that they had set fire to it. I stood sentry there while our regiment was retreating, and when I left brought Malcom with me. He is now in Washington. John Stratton was also wounded and taken prisoner. They made him take hold of the saddle and run back with them, threatening to shoot him, but seeing some officers they dropped him and made after them, so he escaped, and is now safe. It would be well to let his wife know of this. Our company was the first to take prisoners. Our captain was entirely worn out, and uncle (John White, 13 Third avenue), had to lead on the company, and he did it well, I assure you. I saw him after the battle, all sound, but he staid behind to assist the Captain, and I suppose they were both taken prisoners by the rebel cavalry. They are very fond of taking officers, and I have no doubt that this has been their fate, as the regiment was pursued by the same cavalry for a considerable distance, and our officers were not seen afterwards. Uncle had about one hundred dollars in gold on him – the very thing the rebels like. I am sorry that I did not ask some of it from him.

P. S. – I have since learned that one of our men was talking to uncle his when taken by the regel cavalry.

A. W.*

New York (NY) Herald, 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

79th New York Infantry Roster

*Likely Alexander Whyte, Co. B. John Stratton, mentioned above, was also a member of Co. B. John White, mentioned above, is shown on the roster as a member of Co. H. The only other A. W.s found in the roster who was enlisted on July 21, 1861 are Andrew Whiteford of Co. K, and Andrew Walters, unassigned.

Alexander Whyte at Ancestry.com

Alexander Whyte at Fold3





Unit History – Battery E, 3rd U. S. Artillery

15 03 2022

At Washington, D. C, May, 1861. Attached to Sherman’s Brigade, Tyler’s Division, McDowell’s Army, Northeast Virginia, to August, 1861. Sherman’s Brigade, Division of the Potomac, to October, 1861. Porter’s Division, Army of the Potomac, to October, 1861. W. T. Sherman’s South Carolina Expeditionary Corps to April, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of the South, to July, 1862. District of Hilton Head, S. C, Dept. of the South, to September, 1862. United States Forces, Hilton Head, S. C, 10th Army Corps, Dept. of the South, to June, 1863. United States Forces, Folly Island, S. C, 10th Army Corps, to July, 1863. United States Forces, Morris Island, S. C, 10th Army Corps, to January, 1864. Artillery, Folly Island, S. C, Northern District, 10th Army Corps, to February, 1864. Artillery, Ames’ Division, District of Florida, Dept. of the South, to April, 1864. Artillery, 3rd Division, 10th Army Corps, Army of the James, to May, 1864. Artillery, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps, to June, 1864. Artillery, 2nd Division, 10th Army Corps, to August, 1864. Artillery Brigade, 10th Army Corps, to December, 1864. Artillery Brigade, 25th Army Corps, to January, 1865. Artillery, 3rd Division, Terry’s Provisional Corps, Dept. of North Carolina, to March, 1865. Artillery, 3rd Division, 10th Army Corps, Dept. of North Carolina.

SERVICE. – Occupation of Arlington Heights, Va., May 24, 1861. Advance on Manassas, Va., July 16-21. Blackburn’s Ford July 18. Battle of Bull Run July 21. Expedition to Port Royal, S. O, October 21-November 7. Bombardment and capture of Forts Walker and Beauregard, Port Royal Harbor, November 7. Duty at Hilton Head, S. C, till February, 1862. Expedition to Florida February 25-March 5. At Hilton Head, S. C, till May. Operations on James Island, S. C, June 1-28. Action on James Island June 10. Battle of Secessionville June 16. At Hilton Head, S. C, till October. Expedition to Pocotaligo, S. C, October 21-23. Action at Pocotaligo October 22. At Hilton Head, S. C, till June, 1863. Moved to Folly Island, S. C. Attack on Morris Island, S. C, July 10. Operations on Morris Island against Forts Wagner and Gregg and against Fort Sumpter and Charleston July 10-September 7. Assault on Fort Wagner July 18. Capture of Forts Wagner and Gregg September 7. Operations on Morris and Folly Islands against Charleston till January, 1864. Expedition to Florida February 5-7. Expedition from Jacksonville to Lake City, Fla., February 8-22. Battle of Olustee February 20. Duty at Jacksonville till April. Moved to Gloucester Point, Va. Butler’s operations on south side of the James River and against Petersburg and Richmond May 5-28. Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16 to December 7. Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, New Market Heights, September 28-30. Darbytown Road October 7. Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C, December 7-27. Second Expedition to Fort Fisher, N. C, January 3-15, 1865. Assault and capture of Fort Fisher January 15. Near Sugar Loaf Battery February 11. Occupation of Wilmington February 22. Northeast Ferry February 22. Campaign of the Carolinas March 1-April 26. Advance on Goldsboro March 6-21. Advance on Raleigh April 10-13. . Bennett’s House April 26. Surrender of Johnston and his army. Duty in Dept. of North Carolina till —-

From Frederick Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, p. 1701





Sgt. Arthur T. Pickett, Co. I, 38th New York Infantry, On the Battle

19 02 2022

THE THIRTY-EIGHTH NEW YORK REGIMENT

Editor Star: In perusing the journals, I barely see notice of the Thirty-eighth New York Regiment as being engaged on Sunday in defense of my country’s flag. Allow me, Mr. Editor, to say that I was there, being hurt seriously in the right leg and left hand and head. I think that I for one was in the action, and if credit is awarded, the Thirty-eighth are worthy of it. We covered Sherman’s battery bravely, and also covered the gallant firemen of New York when the Black Horse Cavalry charged upon them. Company I was three times driven from a battery, and I saw the secession flag lying in the dust. We marched on the field with 64 men, and we now number 30. Our officers led their men gallantly, and many a poor fellow lies dead on Virginia’s soil. While our regiment was advancing on the enemy our eyes were greeted by the glorious flag of our county, and we supposed that they were some of our own men. We marched at double quick to make a charge on a battery that was pouring a deadly fire upon us; but to our cost we found that the stars and stripes were used as a decoy, and under cover they mowed us down. We retreated, and laid down and loaded our pieces, and sir, our boys marched right ahead, and we avenged the deaths of our comrades. My humble opinion is, that if we had been then reinforced we could have whipped them and sent their black hearts to h—l! I hear it denied that the enemy butchered our wounded, and I beg leave to say that I saw the enemy deliberately bayonet our poor men, and they asking for mercy. Such cruelties are not on record, and my wish and prayer is that my wounds will speedily heal, and the remnant of the Thirty-eighth are ready for the field. We bore the regiment banner of the honored old chieftain, Gen. Winfield Scott, and the regiment did not disgrace the colors they bore. Please insert this in your paper, and you will oblige a type and a soldier.

Very respectfully,
Arthur T. Pickett
2d Sergt. Co. I, 38th regt. Scott Life Guard.

N. B. – Our flag shall wave. Boys of New York will always be ready.

(Washington, DC) Evening Star, 7/24/1861

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38th NYVI Roster

Arthur T. Pickett at Ancestry

Arthur T. Pickett at Fold3
Arthur T. Picket at Fold3

Arthur T. Pickett at FindAGrave





Lt. Col. J. P. Pryor, Aid to Brig. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, On the Battle and His Captivity

11 02 2022

From the Richmond Dispatch.]

GRAPHIC ACCOUNT OF A CAPTURE, A SECESSION SPEECH, AND AN ESCAPE.

Richmond, Aug. 10, 1861. – Owing to a severe illness, from which I have not yet recovered, my promised statement has been delayed to this time. It is with diffidence I obtrude upon the public even now, and should certainly not do so, but that I know that everything in any way connected with the great battle of Manassas is still read with unabated interest, and that it is also necessary to my own vindication from certain mis-statements which have been copied into our newspapers from Northern resources. I shall make it as brief as possible, confining it mainly to the facts, and denouncing, in advance, as false and unfounded, anything in conflict with it which may have appeared in the journals of the United States.

The day before the fight, (Saturday,) the regiment to which I was attached, (the 19th Mississippi, Col. C. H. Mott,) was on the way from Winchester to Manassas, waiting at a railway station called Piedmont, for a train to convey it to the vicinity of the [?] of action. – I was on horseback and was that day acting as Assistant Brigade Quarter Master to Maj. Jas. H. Anderson, of Mississippi, and also as volunteer Aid to Col. C. H. Mott, who was then acting as commander of the Brigade in place of Brigadier General E. Kirby Smith, who was acting in place of General Johnston. Saturday morning I had ridden on, six or seven miles from Piedmont, by the dirt road, in the direction of Manassas, when Maj. Anderson requested me to go back and attend to some business in his department which he supposed had been neglected. In order to ride as light as possible I gave my rifle and baggage to a servant and told him to await my return – not expecting to be gone more than two hours. On my return to Piedmont I was detained by Col. Mott four or five hours, and consequently when I started back toward Manassas I was unable to overtake either the Quarter Master’s train or the servant with my arms who, of course, despairing of my return in time for him to catch up with the train before dark, had gone on. I rode on, however, to Haymarket, a village distant, I believe, ten miles from Manassas Junction, and somewhat nearer the battlefield.

At Haymarket I stopped for the night, being completely knocked up by the fatigue of the day and of the previous march from Winchester to Piedmont. Sleeping the next morning – the glorious Sunday, the 21st – late at least for a soldier, we were at breakfast about 7 o’clock, when it was announced that the battle had begun, as the quick recurring discharges of cannon were distinctly heard. It was at once perceived that a party of us, all of whom were strangers to war, should proceed to the battle ground. I was unarmed, but such was my desire to see a battle, particularly such as I knew this promised to be, I acceded, and away we went, under the guidance of some of the neighboring citizens, who said they knew all of the by ways of the vicinity. They led us by a tortuous route, and it was not till half past ten that we reached the field; and when we got there, I was completely “turned round,” and, as I found out afterwards, was on the left wing of our line of battle, instead of the right, as I then supposed.

The part of the battle ground upon which we entered had not been very hotly contested previous to our arrival, but, instantly after coming up, it became and continued to [?] hours the “[?]” part of the field. The persons who came with me I saw no more after reaching the area of the conflict. Unable to find any of our Mississippi people that I knew, I was thrown in with a regiment which I was afterwards told was from North Carolina – probably the 6th – which just then was making an ineffectual attempt to form on a ridge in point-blank range of a large battery of the enemy, then playing on that of our lines. The regiment, however, fell back a little way to the left and formed in good order behind a farm-house and the adjacent buildings. – About this time a piece of our artillery came upon the scene at that point, and after some delay opened fire upon the enemy in beautiful style. I sat on my horse near this gun for some time, the enemy’s shot and shell whizzing by and falling thick and fast around. The shot from a rifled cannon makes a peculiar music, which, to be appreciated, must be heard – it cannot be described. The bursting of bombs in the air, too, is a sight to see – the long drawn out whirl of a Minnie ball – of a hailstorm of them – the small [?] like report of many thousand muskets – all made up a concert well worth going a thousand miles to attend. And yet, strange to say, I was not in the least apprehensive of danger to myself. All sense of fear was swallowed up in the one grand idea we had that day – before us an enemy who, whatever his numbers, must that day be whipped.

After tarrying awhile by the side of our troops at the point whence I first smelt the powder and heard the roar of a real battle field, I descried on the hill in front of me – the hill where, farther to the left, stood the house so terribly riddled afterwards by the [?]shot of the enemy, in which they killed the old woman, notwithstanding the hospital flag then floating over it – another regiment, which I hoped might be one from Mississippi, I immediately formed the determination to join it. I started down the hill under a cross fire from a battery to the left and another in front, which I now suppose to have been Sherman’s, such was the incessant roar of its guns and the explosion of its shells and hissing of its balls, all around and above me. I had, however, advanced only half way up the opposite hill, when I was met by the regiment I was seeking, rapidly falling back but in good order. Many of the men were wounded, and many came down the hill with their faces all streaming with blood and begrimmed with powder. This regiment, I am informed, was the Fourth Alabama, which suffered so severely and acted so nobly through out the entire day. I proceeded to form, if I am not mistaken, along with the North Carolina regiment, behind the crest of the hill and beyond the range of the enemy’s guns.

All this time the rattle of rifles and musketry, as well as the grander music of artillery, was unceasing. It was observed by many old soldiers, after the battle, that they had never before known the discharges of musketry to be so sharp and continuous throughout so long an action – an action that lasted from 7 in the morning to 7 in the evening. And, this, too, notwithstanding the now well established fact that there were six distinct bayonet charges made by the Confederates during the day.

It was now about 1 o’clock, and as the troops I happened to be with seemed to be waiting for reinforcements, and as I was unarmed and there was no prospect of getting arms where I then was, I concluded to go again in search of a Mississippi regiment, knowing the gallant Second, under the command of my now renowned friend Faulkner, to be somewhere on the field. For this purpose I started off as I then thought, on the side of the field near Manassas. Unfortunately, I was mistaken in the course, and knowing nothing of our line or order of battle, I rode in the direction of Centreville. On rising the next hill, a shell struck a rock within a few feet of me, and exploding, threw the dust over me and my horse in a way that was not very compatible with one’s notions of safety, but was still exciting, especially to the horse, who bounded into the air as if he had been struck with a fragment of Yankee iron. This shell must have been thrown at me by Sherman’s Battery, then probably a mile and a half distant.

Riding forward a few yards further, I perceived in a glen or ravine a party of soldiers, numbering, I suppose about forty, dressed in uniforms exactly similar to many of those worn in the Confederate service, and all armed with the improved Springfield musket.* Of course, I did not dream for an instant that they were other than Southerners and Secessionists. Riding directly up to, and accosting them, a brief colloquy ensued, of which the following is the substance:

“Well, boys,” said I, “I believe those batteries over yonder are, for the present, a little too much for our people on the hill.”

“Oh no,” replied one of them, “we are carrying the day everywhere.” (And so they were up to 1 ½ P. M.]

“Well,” said I, “who are you, and where are you from?”

“Where the devil are you from?” was the quick response, in true Yankee fashion.

Seeing I was in for it, I replied promptly and proudly, “I am from Mississippi.”

Instantly an officer sprang up and shouted, “Take that man,” and the whole forty cocked their guns and surrounded me. There I was in their midst, totally unarmed. What could I do but surrender me a prisoner of war? I did so. I was dismounted. They searched me for arms but found none. The officer of the detachment got on my horse, and when the panic came ran away with him! But I understand that both horse and man were killed by a cannon shot from one of our batteries in the rout. So much for the gallant bay who bore me through what little I saw of the immortal filed of Manassas.

My captors carried e by devious ways to a strong detachment of their troops, probably [?] strong, posted in a neighboring wood. – From thence they were ordered to convey me to their rear, which they proceeded to do, treating me kindly and politely by the way. Indeed, I may here say, once and for all, to the credit of the great Yankee nation, except in a single instance, I experienced nothing but polite and respectful treatment while I was a captive in their hands. The single instance referred to was of a very common soldier, wo, it seems, had just lost his brother that night, and who came up, and pointing to me, said he wanted to shoot “that d—-d secesh.” My guards sternly ordered him off, and even threatened to shoot him if he did not at once absent himself. But this is anticipating, for the incident happened after we reached the rear.

The rear of the enemy’s forces to which I was next conducted was then at a point a mile and a half to two miles on this side of Centreville at a farm house beyond and to the right of which lie extensive fields. To the left there is a skirt of woods sufficiently extensive to screen a brigade and a battery of four guns. But of this further on.

Arrived at the rear, we found there a large body of men, amounting, I judge, to near 10,000, scattered over the field and in the grounds around the farm house, all in disarray and all elate with the victory which they then deemed assured. They brought out a chair for me, and a large crowd gathered around, asking innumerable questions, but at the same time politely assuring me I need not answer unless I chose. They asked m how many men we had in the field that day.

I told them I did not know, and that if they did I should not tell them. However, I added, I shouldn’t be surprised if we had at least 60,000 men on the ground, and as many more only a few miles off. They said they had 40,000 in the field and 40,000 in reserve. They asked me if Jeff. Davis didn’t ride a white horse, and was he not on the field? I replied that President Davis rode a white horse at Richmond, and that if not then on the field, he would be there in ample time to turn the tide of battle, if it was really running in their favor, as they said it was. They said they did not care a d—n for the nigger – that they were simply fighting for the flag, and asked me what we were fighting for? I told them they were very candid; that while we were fighting for the same great principle our and their forefathers fought together for side by side through the first revolution, the right to govern ourselves in our own way, without let or hindrance from the outside world, they acknowledged that they were merely fighting for a tawdry piece of bunting, worth about fifty cents a yard – while they were fighting for a simple conventional symbol, we were fighting for our homes and firesides, and every good and holy thing that man holds dear. Much more of the same sort passed, but not a word was said by me (as their reporters wantonly write,) about our having “two full negro regiments” in our Confederate States Army.

During the [?], a great crowd numbering several hundreds gathered around me, (still sitting in my chair,) [?] officers on horseback being on the outskirts and [?]. Tiring somewhat of their countless questions, I politely remarked that if they would [?] their [?] questioning I would make them a comp[?] the whole [?] between the Confederate States and the United States as I understood it, and as I believed every [?] and intelligent man among them would view it if he were only properly enlightened. To this they assented, and I proceeded to do my best under the circumstances. Of course, I cannot here give even an outline of my remarks on that interesting and critical occasion but this much I remember and will not withhold: After going over the main points of Southern Scripture in reference to merely political [?], States Rights, etc., I told them frankly that, although they could outnumber us, we could outfight them; that a vast majority of our people were as brave as Caesar at the head of his conquering legions, while the majority of brave men among them was probably not so vast, that we had the best Generals on our side – Davis, Beauregard, Johnston, Lee, Magruder, Albert Johnston, Ben McCulloch and others – while they had only Scott, whose sands of time are nearly run, and who is altogether too slow for such a “trial of conclusions” as our Generals have [?]; and that as long as we could bring 200,000 men into the field, (and we can do that forever,) the question of victory or defeat is a mere question of generalship. Finally, I told them, that God Almighty, the Supreme, All-wise and [?] Ruler of the Universe, was on our side. That was evidenced by the military [?] of the old Union, which for the last eight years, had required large quantities of arms and munitions of war to be transported to Southern and Southwestern forts, arsenals, armories and other military and naval depots. That it was evidenced at Fort Sumter, when God raised a great storm and scattered their provisioning and reinforcing fleet to the four winds of the sea. Just as the bombardment began. That it was evidenced at Bethel, where it seems that the very stars, in their courses, fought against you Siveras of the North, in that you got on fighting and slaying among yourselves, even before the battle began, demoralizing your forces and thus assuring us an easy victory against the most desperate odds. That it was further abundantly evidenced in the unexampled food crops with which the good God has blessed us, thus forever thwarting your expressed determination to starve us out, by blockading us from Cairo all the way round to the sea. And, finally, I should not be surprised if some signal interposition of Divine Providence should not be exhibited in our favor here at Bull Run today.

All this, and more like it, I substantially said, and yet they did not slay me where I sat. The truth is, I thought I was doomed to a long and dreary imprisonment or exile at least, and, perhaps, felt a little desperate. They heard me politely, and, so far from mocking or hissing, seemed rather to like, if not the matter, at least the exceeding novelty of my remarks, and the intense strangeness of “the situation” generally.

Nearly all the time I was with them the Yankees were particularly severe on our “masked batteries,” sneeringly asking, “How many masked batteries have you?” I told them we had them almost everywhere, and particularly in places where they would least expect them. I knew not that even while I spoke one of our batteries was moving up behind the skirt of woods to which I have alluded, for the purpose of giving them a surprise such as the world has rarely seen.

I observed that most of them seemed to be unaccustomed to the use of arms, handling them awkwardly, and showing very palpable symptoms of trepidation whenever even one of their own muskets or rifles was fired a short distance off. But when, as I have foreshadowed, our big guns (Kemper’s battery) backed by the South Carolina brigade, came up on them unperceived and commenced firing on them from their right flank, all scattered about the houses and fields as they were – oh, then you ought to have seen them break and run! The two rough-hewn fellows who had me in charge snatched me up by either arm and dragged me in the grand melee at more than “double-quick,” across an open field, for more than two hundred yards; and, when the fire grew hotter, and some of their men began to fall, they forgot all about me, dropped me and their muskets, and everything else they had about them that would encumber their flight – knapsacks, haversacks, cartridge-boxes, canteens and all – and ran for dear life. As did my guards in the matter of shedding their encumbrances, so did nearly the entire division. The woods and fields were strewed with the “spoils of war.” All this time the officers – or at least some of them – were shouting, “Don’t run, men; don’t run!” while they themselves were making quite as good time as their men. Very quietly I picked up one of my guards’ muskets (I have it yet), and taking a direction to the right across their line of racing. I was soon safely out of the rabble rout, and happily ensconced under a tree in a woodland hard by, where I sat down to await the chances of battle, already decided – though I did not then know it positively – gloriously in our favor.

It was, I think, not more than an hour before the skirmishers of a South Carolina Regiment came up, and after requiring me to give an account of myself, which being satisfactory, I went on with them a short distance, and a little after sunset saw the last gun fired by Kemper’s battery at the broken and disordered elements of the enemy as they scampered pell mell into and through Centreville on their way to Washington, and to everlasting disgrace. It was by use of these last guns, I suppose, that my gallant horse and the officer that commanded the detachment which took me prisoner were slain. Requiecsat in pace!

Returning that night towards the headquarters, the South Carolina Brigade, in whose hospitable company I found myself bivouacked at various places on the battlefield, until finally, about three o’clock in the morning of Monday, we arrived at the headquarters of Gen. Evans, where we laid down on the ground, and on [?] blankets, in the rain, until we got sufficiently wet to wake us up – about 6 ½ or 7 o’clock.

My captors belonged to a regiment of Wisconsin, the [?*], I believe. After they ran off and left me, dropping every portable thing they had, I picked up the fine military great coat of one of their officers – Lieut. W[ise?], I suppose, was his name, from an envelope in the pocket which I have yet, and which my baggage being at the Junction, was of especial service in shielding me from the cold and rain of several succeeding nights and days.

Begging pardon, Messrs. Editors, for having trespassed so long upon your patience.

I am, yours, very respectfully,
J. P. PRYOR

The (Huntsville, AL) Democrat, 8/28/1861

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* An account in the Baltimore Sun, reprinted in the Richmond Dispatch on 7/25/1861, identifies these as members of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, and the soldier capturing Pryor as Pvt. Hasbrouck. It also identifies Pryor as a cousin of Roger A. Pryor.

This account refutes, per other Southern accounts, claims in Northern papers that Pryor told his captors there were units of black confederate soldiers on the field that day. See this post by Andy Hall.

I suspect, but can’t state with certainty, that the author is John Pope Pryor, a journalist, who was later enlisted in the Nathan Bedford Forrest’s 3rd Tennessee Cavalry, and still later coauthored The Campaigns of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and of Forrest’s Cavalry.

J. P. Pryor at Fold3

J. P. Pryor at FindAGrave