Capt. Alfred Horatio Belo, Co. D, 11th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

5 08 2021

Battle Ground 4 miles north of Manassas
Junction, Va. July 21 [sic], 1861.

Dear Carrie;

Your very welcome note, together with Mollie’s interesting letter came very opportunely to hand this morning. We have just received our tents and put them up. We commenced receiving our baggage yesterday evening, but it was Company’s time to go on picket guard, therefore after going out and posting the pickets, I returned to camp, and with a few men left, succeeded in pitching all our tents last evening and this morning, and now as everything is going on quietly I have seated myself for the purpose off having a nice quiet chat with you.

It is unnecessary to say anything about our departure from Danville, as I noticed an article in the last Press giving the particulars. Our stay in Richmond was not long; we arrived here on Saturday about 10 o’clock P.M. and left on the following Tuesday at 6 o’c P.M. I suppose you have seen an account of the collision of that night. I was in the rear car, asleep at the time, but was waked by the jar. The troops were all on one train, and the baggage on another following behind. Between 11 & 12 o’clock the baggage train ran into our train, but strange to say the rear car was injured very slightly, while one or two next to it were smashed up considerably, wounding several of Capt. Connally’s men, and breaking and bending a number of guns. To look at the wreck afterwards impressed everyone with the thought that nothing else but the divine interpolation of God saved the lives of many of our Regiment on that night. The next morning we proceeded on our way and without anything unusual occurring, arrived at Manassas Junction about sundown. We were under order to report ourselves at Winchester, but learning here that a large force of the enemy was advancing, and in all probability a battle would ensue on the following day, we concluded to wait until Gen’l Beauregard returned, and if he thought our services would be more needed here than at Winchester, remain and go to W afterwards.

On the return of Gen’l Beauregard we were ordered to remain, and between 1 and 2 o’clock A.M. on Thursday the 18th inst. were commanded to wake up the men (who were still in the cars) and have them ready to march by 4 o’clock. Shortly after daylight we took up our line of march, and after marching four miles were halted and placed in the reserves. I will not attempt a description of our feelings and thoughts on that march, but leave you to imagine them. I will only say that events crowded each other so rapidly that we did not find much time for reflection, and marching to a battle field is not near so serious a thing as represented by some. The battle commenced about 12 o’clock and about 10 o’clock were ordered to take our position on the left flank, where we remained during he remainder of the engagement. The fight was chiefly confined to the right front and center, and we did not become generally engaged, altho’ occasionally a cannon ball or bomb shell would whistle past and strike before us to keep us on the alert, and be ready for an attack at any moment. Our men were all remarkably cool during the whole day, and when it was announced that the enemy had retreated seemed to be disappointed that they had not had an opportunity to try their muskets on some Yankee targets. I have often, when reading of battles wished that I could be placed in some position to see one, but then had no idea that wishes would be so soon realized. Carrie, I assure you that it is magnificently grand to hear the continued rattle of musketry, the clash of bayonets, the shouts of exultation rending the air when any point is attained, mingled with the booming of the field pieces, and no one can adequately realize it, unless by actual experience. After the battle we marched and took our position on the center (where we have been ever since). On Friday and Saturday we were busily engaged in strengthening our entrenchments, and were kept on the alert both night and day by constant alarms of the approach of the enemy. We were within sight, and by means of glasses could see the Yankees passing to and fro. On Saturday night, the same night you wrote, we slept in the trenches on our arms, but were not alarmed until about daybreak when we commenced preparations for the coming struggle. We breakfasted as early as possible. It was a beautiful, bright, sunny Sabbath morn, and Dame Nature seemed to have donned her best attire to witness the signal defeat of our enemies.

The first shot was fired about 6 o’clock and a brisk cannonading was kept up. Between 9 and 10 o’clock the enemy made an attack upon our left flank, and a bloody contest ensued lasting for several hours. The evident design was to attack both flanks, and then make a combined effort on the center, but they met with such stout resistance at those two places and had to reinforce so much that they had very few left to make the attack on the center. I heard it remarked yesterday that one of the Yankee prisoners said that they (the Yankees) had taken one of our pickets prisoner a day or two before the battle and had extorted from him the facts that the center was stronger than any other part, and the North Carolina men were in the center, whereupon they said ‘they would not encounter N.C. troops at all, but if they were compelled they would pit off to the last.’ Be that as it may, they did not advance upon us but kept up a constant cannonade upon us, which of course we could not resist, but had to keep well concealed behind our entrenchments. The battle was very bloody, and the victory dear as we lost some very good men, but our loss is not near so heavy as that of the enemy. The regulars and Zouaves are the men who did the hard fighting against us, and they are the ones who suffered the most. I am told that almost all of Ellsworth’s petlambs were left on the field. This was undoubtedly intended as a decisive battle on the part of the enemy. We are informed that a great many ladies and gentlemen, among them Congressmen with their wives and daughters accompanied the army as far as Centerville (three miles north of this), with the intention of going on to Richmond with the army, but in the evening of that great day suddenly concluded to postpone their visit to that city for the present. But I am digressing.

The battle continued with unabated fury until about 4 o’clock P.M. when the firing ceased and shortly afterwards we were told that the enemy were in full retreat, and were ordered to follow immediately. It was very gratifying to see the promptness with which our men leaped from their places, and in a few moments were in hot pursuit and with glistening bayonets and shouts of triumph rending the air. We passed right through the enemy’s camp and saw vast quantities of knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, blankets, uniforms, bread, beef, guns &c, that they had left behind in their haste, and continued the pursuit for several miles, when night came on us and we returned to our camp.

It is impossible for me to say anything correctly about the loss on either side. I know the whole of the next day was occupied in bringing in the booty and prisoners. We took a large number of baggage wagons and fine horses, all of Sherman’s battery besides a good many guns and other articles of war. On the day after the battle some five or six hundred prisoners were sent on to Richmond, including 30 or 40 officers, and there were, and are now a great many more to go on. It was decidedly the most signal victory that has ever been achieved on the American continent and several more lessons of the same sort will I hope have a good effect on Lincoln and his cohorts. But I declare, here comes the end of the paper and I must stop.

Write soon to Your cousin,

Alf.
Direct 11th Regt. N.C. Volunteers Manassas Junction. Va.

You doubtless heard of the death of Col. Charles Fisher. His remains were sent home.

Yours,
Alf.

Contributed by Charles R. Knight

Transcription from North Carolina Museum of History

Original letter at State Archives of NC

Alfred Horatio Belo at Ancestry

Alfred Horatio Belo at Fold3

Alfred Horatio Belo at FindAGrave

Alfred Horatio Belo at Wikipedia





Pvt. Thomas G. Read, Co. I, 33rd Virginia Infantry, On the Victory

4 08 2021

Manassa’s Junction
July 27, 1861

Dear Father,

I have been thinking sometime that I would send you a letter, as I have written twice to mother, I know you want the exact news about the big fight and what they took &ct. well I suppose you know we, that is, our company got here after the fight we got here last Tues. and have been under tent ever since, doing very well it is not near as bad as some report it we have had plenty to eat of fresh beef, bacon, flour, coffee & sugar, and some rice, we are kept right busy drilling three times a day, cooking, bringing water about 200 yds. The water is good freestone, but rather warm, still it does right well, there is plenty of it. As to the fight that took place last Sunday, it is considered by all a great victory, and so it is, I was out in the battleground Wednesday, it is 7 miles west of the Junction, and we are camped 3 miles west of it, so we are 4 miles from the battlefield, it is estimated that we killed 10,000 of the enemy, and they 3,000 of us, besides hundreds of prisoners taken by us, we took 70 pieces of cannon, 8 thirty two pounders, and 62 rifled cannon, besides 18,000 stacks of small arms. The value of all taken from them is estimated at a million and a half dollars so you see it is a pretty good gain to our side and less so theirs; there were a good many old regulars among the enemy; they are their best soldiers, and were dressed in red and blue, even had red pants, good marks to shoot at; it seems they intended to march right through to Richmond from the way they were prepared; they had 3 days rations in their haversacks, and had their Knapsacks on their backs pretty well filled; but God frustrated their designs and they have nothing left but infamy, dishonor, and defeat; if we had been able to follow them, we might have run them clear through, and taken possession of Washington itself, but it was not to be so, our men are very well satisfied as it is and there is no bravado, or boasting that I have heard, but we all believe that God was on our side, we being in the right. At last our men charged bayonets on them about a hundred yds off, but they ran like Yankees and we couldn’t reach them; they kept on running until they got out of danger though the cavalry pursued them and destroyed a good many with sword & pistol. they went back through Alexandria like stray sheep. Well, I can only tell you yet that I have been doing very well so far, we rode 35 miles on the cars from Salem to this place let me know whether Henry has gone in the militia and write soon to your affectionate son

Thos. G. Read

Let mother read this as if it were written to her, as I may not be able to write again soon, love to all, and tell James Zirkle I will write to him soon

T.G.R.

Contributed by Eric Mink

Read Family Correspondence at University of Notre Dame Rare Books and Special Collections, including biographical information

This letter at University of Notre Dame Rare Books and Special Collections (transcription and letter images)

Thomas G. Read at Ancestry

Thomas G. Read at Fold3

Thomas G. Read at FindAGrave

 





Capt. Asher Waterman Harman, Co. G, 5th Virginia Infantry, On the Victory

3 08 2021

Camp Jackson, July 25th, 1861

My dear Wife,

It has been a long, long time since I have received a letter from you. I know that it is not your fault, but that makes me the no less anxious to hear from you directly. I went to the Junction last night & was informed that the mail wouldn’t be opened until this morning & when I sent this morning was informed it would not be ready before 10 o’clock. John went in this morning & I am in hopes that he will bring me a letter from you. I know I am anxious. You were & are still to hear from me. I have done my part to communicate with you and have written daily. Some of my letters must have reached & relieved your mind on my account. We have been comparatively quiet for three days now, and we are down to our usual drill daily, & our orders has just come in to cook three days rations which does indicate a movement somewhere, though we may stay here for a week or so yet. Our forces are pressing on towards Alexandria. It seems now that Lion is to be herded in his den, and I think we may yet see the White House & Lincoln before we return to the Valley. Nothing would afford me so much pleasure. The newspaper accounts of the dead, wounded & prisoners of the enemy are moderate, also of wagons & army stores. It is almost incredible one can hardly believe their own eyes at the extraordinary sights. This has been a terrible disaster for them & will take millions of money for them to replace, if they even can their heavy losses. The results of this battle must change the face of the war. Their forces cannot penetrate into the State with a victorious army pressing on Washington & ready at a moment’s warning to be hurled on the rear of them. Such a course on their part would be fatal & render their destruction more than certain. I have no fears now for the final result of the contest. We have proven our superiority over even their Regular forces. Don’t think I am too confident. God is on our side. His finger is pointed direct to the late battlefield and speaks in tones of thunder his approval of our great cause & dare could it be otherwise. Are we not fighting for all we hold dear on this earth, and what is life worth, if we fail. I would not give a fig for it, but enough of this. Long before this you have seen Asher, Graham & Stafford & they have given you all the particulars from this Quarter & about me. Tell Willy he ought just to see the dead Yankees & Yankee prisoners. Father’s boys slayed a lot of them too & fought like wild cats. I am very anxious to hear from Michael. I want by all means to go into his regiment if I can get there. I think he has influence enough to have me there. William is especially anxious to go too. I hope we will all be together. When the horse gets home, if you need him, which I don’t think you do, as two horse plow teams will do the work, keep him, if not, Michael will dispose of him for me again. Bagly will let you have another hand if you need him. You will know best. Tell William or Mr. Dull to have the wheat land ploughed early & the land put in fine order so that the wheat will have a good start. I meant for you to get the Mediterranean wheat from Michael. Only seed as much in white wheat as will make bread for ourselves, say 8 or 10 acres. Sew our own Bouten wheat & the Med. from Michael. I am so anxious to get a letter from you, it seems like a mighty long time. Bearing the water, we are getting on very well, that is miserable & scarce. We suffer for it, but hope to be moved soon to a better place. Did we make much hay. How does the stock look. I hear that we have had a fine season and that the corn looks well. Hope our fall pasture will be good. Try & make a clover seed enough for ourselves. The Timothy seed you will have to buy. There is two bushels at home & five bushels more will do. Don’t sew the new ground in grass this fall. Leave it until next fall. Keep all stock off of the young grass except the colts & calves & don’t let them stay on in wet weather. Do with the wheat just as Michael advised. Remember me to the servants. How does Albert, Ned, Marshall, Fanny & Philbert come on. Hope they are all good. Mind me to Miss Sally & Mr. Dull. Good bye. God less you. Kiss my darling babies for me. Love to Lucy. Kind regards to Mrs. Donaghe. Love to Mary, Betty, Fanny & Corey. Hoping to get a letter from you soon.

I am as ever your fond & devoted Husband,

Asher W.H.

Have you seen my wounded men. I tried to send Doyle home this morning but could not. He has typhoid fever. Will send him up tomorrow. No news. Tom ate dinner with me today & is here now. Will & I are both well. Tom Gates is coming to stay with me.

Affec.,

Asher

Contributed by Eric Mink

The original letter and transcript were found by Eric Mink on the website of War Between the States Militaria July 2013.

Asher W. Harman at Ancestry

Asher W. Harman at Fold3

Asher W. Harman at FindAGrave





“L.V.H.”, Co. I, 4th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

30 07 2021

Manassas Junction, July 24, 1861.

Mr. Editor:

I will now give you a short account of the important events that have lately transpired at this point. On Sunday, the 21st, inst., we fought a bloody and one of the greatest battles ever fought on this side of the Atlantic. I cannot enter into the details of the battle, but can only give you a description of the part played by Jackson’s brigade, and our regiment specifically. Early on the morning of the eventful day it was reported that the enemy were advancing upon us and that a large column was attempting to flank us on our left wing. So our brigade was put in motion and marched off to support the point of attack. Soon after our departure from our camp, the impudent fellows opened a cannonade just opposite our encampment, actually throwing balls, shells, &c., into it, yet we pushed on, and after a good deal of marching, counter-marching, double-quicking, &c., we halted for a short time in a grove. At that time there were cannon firing all along our line, but the heaviest was on our left, where the sharp rattle of musketry plainly told us that there the work had begun. It was then about 11 o’clock, but the firing had been opened some time before. After waiting for a short time, an aid came riding up at full speed and we were ordered into the field, which was at least a mile distant. Away we went over the hills towards the scene, whilst the din of the battle grew louder and louder. On arriving there our brigade was posted on the extreme left of the line of battle. Our regiment was posted just a few yards in the rear of the celebrated “Washington Artillery,” from New Orleans, which was stationed on the summit of a small hill. This we had to support, and await the order to charge on the enemy’s battery, just on an opposite hill. In the meantime the enemy’s whole fire from his artillery on the left was directed on the batteries just in front of our regiment, and we had to throw ourselves flat on the ground as a protection against the balls, shot, shell, &c., of the enemy’s battery, which came thick as hail just a few feet above our heads, and completely cutting to pieces a grove in our rear. Sometimes they would strike in front of us, tear up the ground, and bounce over our heads, and others would just graze the tops of our bodies as we lay prostrate. Whilst laying there, a fatal shell burst in the midst of our company, killed three of our boys and wounded another. Also we had some others wounded there. We lay in that awful place for at least two hours, during which time the suspense was of the most agonizing character. For our inactivity was a burden, and we expected every moment to be swept into eternity. The batteries in front of us did noble and effective work; and Capt. Pendleton’s battery was there too. After a time the enemy moved some of their pieces still further over to our left, so as to obtain an enfilading fire on our lines. Some of our pieces returned the compliment to them with a deadly fire. And then the strife was fiercest and the thunder of the battle the loudest. A large body of the enemy then attempted to get around us on our left, to take the batteries. But the word was given to charge on their lines. And believe me it was a relief for our boys to go get up from their dangerous position behind those batteries and dash forward in the charge. The Yankees cannot stand a charge, so they did not stand firm, but deemed it prudent to retire a short distance. Then our regiment was ordered to halt and open fire upon them. After firing upon their column for a while – many of the shots telling well – we again charged on them, and that was the turning point of the day, for they broke and ran like fine fellows. We immediately took all of their artillery, there, the celebrated Rhode Island battery. Abut the same time the enemy’s ranks broke along the line and the day was won. Some reinforcements then came in and joining in with our troops, pursued the routed army for about two miles. Then our cavalry put out after them for many miles, captured about 20 pieces of cannon from them, many baggage wagons loaded, guns, &c., which they threw aside in their flight. Our gunners turned some of their own rifle pieces upon them and played most beautifully into their ranks for miles. The road along which they fled was filled with blankets, haversacks, canteens, &c., laid aside by them, as they run like brave fellows. It was a complete rout for them and a glorious victory for us. Those were proud moments for our boys when they beheld our regimental flag wave in triumph over the field of Stone Bridge (the name given to the battle). It was the same flag given to our company on the morning of our departure, by the ladies of Falling Spring, as we gave it to the regiment, being the nicest of any among our companies. Opposed to our regiment were the New York Zouaves of Ellsworth’s regiment and some of the Brooklyn Zouaves; but with such a motto as “Pro Aris et Focis” upon our banner, we struggled hard and finally won the day. Also the rest of our brigade had to engage with regulars, and hence had quite brisk work of it. We gained the day, but it was a bloody victory for some of us. Our company lost five, and had seven wounded. There were also others from Rockbridge who fell to rise no more. Our company buried our dead comrades on the morning after the battle, just where we were first stationed, on the edge of the grove. Poor boys! they now sleep their long sleep in their soldier graves amid the hills of Prince William, where they fell in the cause of Freedom, and in defence of all that is dear to the human heart. On the field of Stone Bridge some of the best and bravest blood of the South was shed in the cause of Southern Independence, sons of Virginia, of the Carolinas and of all the other Confederate States, were there sacrificed upon our common alter and in one common cause. But the enemy’s loss far exceeded ours. I walked over the field in the evening of the day of battle, and where they stood the ground was strewn thick their dead and wounded. Some of the wounded said that we Southern boys fought differently from what they had been led to suppose. And that difference is owing to the difference on our respective causes. Had I time and space I could enter more into the details of the battle. Some of our boys remarked on that beautiful Sabbath morning that we would on that day fight a second Waterloo; and I hope it will be to Lincoln what it was to Napoleon. That it will but herald the downfall of the usurper and the tyrant and inaugurate the bright era of Southern Independence, when peace and prosperity will reign over the land of the sunny South.

L.H.V.*

Lexington (VA) Gazette, 8/1/1861

Contributed by John Cummings. Transcribed by Eric Mink.

Co. I was comprised of the Liberty Hall Volunteers (L. H. V.)

Original Roll of Liberty Hall Volunteers, Co. I, 4th VA Infantry





Unknown Officer, Co. G, 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers, On the Battle

19 07 2021

The following letter from an officer in Company G, Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, giving an account of the battle of last Sunday, will be read with interest. It was addressed to a prominent citizen of this town. It seems that our Company passed thirty-six hours wholly without food, drink, or sleep.

Camp Clark, Washington, D. C.,
July 23d, 1861.

Friend ——:– I suppose, were this, you have heard of our battle and defeat; but thinking that you would like an account from an eye-witness, I will give it to you. We left our camp at Centerville at two o’clock on Sunday morning, and, after marching about ten miles, we engaged the rebels. The Second Rhode Island Regiment, was in the advance, two companies on each side of the road acting as skirmishers, and my own company was the advance company on the road, marching by the flank in four ranks. We were marching in the woods, and could not see where the enemy were, when Col. Hunter came riding down to us and said, “Now, Rhode Islanders, we expect much of you – give it to them!” We assured him we would do it. We then leaped over a fence and found the enemy drawn up in a line and ready for us. We rushed down upon them, firing as fast as we could, but they outnumbered us, and being armed with Minie rifles, cut us completely to pieces. Through some mismanagement, our regiment was engaged with the rebels thirty minutes before any other troops came on the field, receiving a most galling fire. Within the space of ten minutes, Cols. Hunter and Slocum, Major Ballou and Capt. Tower fell, which was a severe loss to commence with. Our men fought like bull-dogs. During the thirty minutes we were all alone on the field out men expended all their ammunition, and we had to rob the dead to last till we were ordered off to replenish. The rebels are armed with first-rate arms, and use them well. They would bring out an American flag in their line and keep it there until they could rally their men in the bushes, and then make a rush upon us. In this way they deceived us.

Our light battery worked first-rate, but was obliged to leave the field for want of ammunition. After a fight of about five hours we were ordered to retreat. On our way back the enemy opened a masked battery upon us, and killed a great many men and horses, and took the light battery, except one piece. The Rhode Island Second Regiment received the highest praise from army officers and the citizens of Washington, for the prompt manner in which they went into battle. The greatest compliment I heard was than of an officer of the army, saying, that if it became necessary to cover the retreat, he would be obliged to take the Rhode Island Regiments and the Regulars to do it, which I thought was very good.

Major Ballou was in the midst of the battle, acting bravely, when a cannon ball passed through his horse, shattering the Major’s leg to pieces, so that they had to take it off. Our retreat was so hasty that we left both dead and wounded. How they will fare the Lord only knows. The rebels are a blood-thirsty set.

You can imagine the shape the men are in at present, when you know that we marched from 2 o’clock in the morning, without any breakfast, ten miles, and immediately attacked the enemy without resting at all; and then our retreat was so sudden that we could not rest. The distance to Washington was thirty miles, which we were obliged to mad before we halted, all without any food except what we could carry in our haversacks, and this we were obliged to throw away. So you see we were on our feet without rest from 2 o’clock Sunday morning, till eight o’clock Monday morning, when we arrived at Long Bridge. The men’s feet are in very bad condition. I never knew what it was to suffer for water before, being obliged to dip it up in the road all muddy, and drink it mud and all. It does not become me to give my opinion of this battle and its management, but I have one and you will, after you have read the whole account.

You must excuse the manner in which this is put together, for I have been writing all day making reports, and thought I would write you, if it was late.

Warren (RI) Telegraph, 7/27/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy





Pvt. John B. Edson, Co. E, 27th New York Infantry, On the Death* of Pvt. John Clague

8 01 2021

From Capt. Wanzer’s Company.

Camp Anderson,
Washington, July 23d.

Dear Sir: – You no doubt have heard of the great battle fought on Sunday last. Our regiment was brought in to the hottest of the affray. I have a painful duty to perform. It is with a trembling hand I inform you of the death of your son John. He fell by my side mortally wounded in the right shoulder. He lived about two hours and a half. Myself and two others carried him to a stone building nearby, used as a Hospital by our troops while in action. I made him as comfortable as possible. He deemed to take everything very easy and died nobly. Our troops had to retreat, and consequently could not bring him off the field. We’ll try however, and obtain it by a flag of truce if the rebels will respect it. John was thought a great deal of in camp. He was quite and took everything very cool. I am in hopes of getting a furlough for a week or two, until our regiment is made up again, it having been terribly cut to pieces, and then will give you a full account of his death.

[To] William Clague.

J. B. Edson.

Rochester (New York) Evening Express, 7/26/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

27th New York Infantry Roster

*Per the regimental roster, John Clague mustered out with his company on 5/31/1863. Hospital steward Daniel Bosley of Co. E. reported Clague killed instantly. Pvt. Duncan Brown of Co. E reported Clague died after about an hour. Clague was however reported very much alive after the battle by Co. E’s Corp. W. H. Merrell in his account of his captivity after the battle. John Clague of Co. E died in 1921 per FindAGrave

John B. Edson at Fold3





Lt. Col. Thomas Ford Morris, 17th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Camp

7 01 2021

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN, FROM AN EYE-WITNESS

Camp Lorrilard, July 22.

I was an eye-witness of the battle at Bull Run yesterday. The 17th were not in the action, but thinking there would be a brush, I with one of our Captains, Bartram, left our camp early Sunday morning. We met with no adventure, and on arriving on the heights near Centreville, heard heavy guns and saw the smoke. We pushed on rapidly for two or three miles, and found ourselves at the head of the centre division under General Schenck. The men in this command appeared demoralized and under great excitement. On inquiring the cause, I learned that their General had led them on a concealed battery, and that they had been considerably cut up; we had evidence of this in the numbers brought into hospital. I obtained a good position on rising ground, and for three or four hours watched the progress of the battle made by the division on our right, Hunter’s. It was a magnificent sight, and cannot be forgotten. Our men were perfect heroes, and I would have had the world see their bayonet charges, forcing the enemy back, and still rallying in to drive them farther back. Our men were perfect heroes, and I would have had the world see their bayonet charge, forcing the enemy back, and still rallying to drive then farther back. I was within 200 yards of one of our 32 pounder rifled canon, and when the enemy came out in any considerable force on the hill opposite, this gun would drop a shell among them, that would scatter them like sheep. The captain and myself were obliged to go back near Centerville to get waster, as the wells were guarded to keep the water for the wounded. We had just obtained water, and about giving some to our horses, when a stampede took place, soldiers, ambulances, horsemen, and representing two regiments. I determined to rally them, and no circus rider ever mounted quicker. The captain and I rushed in front of the frenzied multitude, and called out to them to rally, which had no effect. I drew a pistol, and shouted I would shoot every man who attempted to pass me, that there they must stand. I succeeded beyond my hopes, and forming them in line, marched them back to their command, Gen. Schenck. Both of these regiments had lost their Colonels, one killed and one carried off wounded. We returned to the battle field, and just as one of the divisions made an advance, throwing out artillery on the open field, where it was soon at work splendidly. At this time a message came from Gen. McDowell saying the enemy were in full retreat. This was enough glory, and I determined to go back to our camp with news of victory. We had gone but a mile when we stopped by the roadside to eat lunch, and unbridled our horses that they might graze, when lo’! the whole of our force were in retreat. I supposed the enemy were closing, and as my horse is hart to bridle at all times, I thought I should be taken, and ordered the captain to return to our camp. It was a perfect pout, and I hope I many never witness anything like it again. Wagons, ambulances, guns, men mounted and dismounted. It was utterly impossible to stop the current. Officers were powerless, and until they reached Centreville, where the reserve under General Miles were drawn up, there was no order. The most of the regiments made a stand, but the two I rallied in the morning (if by any means they could reach the Potomac) never wou’d stop running till they got home. I remained at Centreville until there was comparative quiet, owing to the knowledge that there was no enemy chasing, when I started for camp, and arrived at 1 a.m., on the 22d.

July 26th.

Our regiment is now inside Fort Ellsworth, our pleasant camp (Lorrilard) in the grove on the hillside, had to be given up with its cool breezes and delightful shade, and we are now sweltering in the sun. Our men are continually employed shifting and mounting guns, and cutting down trees that obstruct the range of those already mounted. On a hill near us a body of sailors from the navy yard at Washington, are throwing up a battery, and altogether we have busy times. If the enemy had pursued our retreating columns, they would have taken thousands of prisoners, and all the fortifications on this side of the river, would have been in their hands now. To be sure, we determined to hold this place to the last, but with the force they could bring, we could not have kept them out 12 hours. The 17th would have been annihilated, there was no retreat for us and we knew it. Now it is utterly impossible for them to hurt us. They will approach no nearer than Fairfax. We can whip them in open field, I think, three to one. Their strength lies in batteries, and they are terrible. We have tried them now, and hereafter will fight cannon with cannon; there will be no more sending men to be cut down without being able to effect anything.

July 29th.

A week has passed and no attack had been made upon us, and probably none anticipated. What an error the rebels had made in not following up their advantage. Our men have worked very hard the past week; wheeling dirt for gun platforms, building the same, and mounting guns. We feel secure against any force the enemy can bring against us.

President Lincoln, Mr. Seward and General McDowell paid us a visit a few days since. I was in command, and had the pleasure of receiving them. I had a long chat with Mr. Lincoln who inquired into many details of the battle, &c. He is very affable. Yesterday we had a visit from Gens. McClellan and McDowell with their staff officers, some twenty or thirty in all. I was delighted with Gen. McClellan; he is very unassuming in his manners, but there is a same about him I like. He is the General for me, and I think, the man of the day.

T. F. Morris,
Lt.-Col. 17th Regt., N. Y. V.

Yonkers (New York) Examiner, 8/8/1861

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Contributed by John J. Hennessy

17th New York Infantry Roster

Thomas Ford Morris at Fold3

Thomas Ford Morris at FindAGrave





Sgt. Robert E. Ellerbeck, Co. E, 27th New York Infantry, On the Battle

6 01 2021

ADVENTURES AT BULL RUN.

We are indebted to Mr. F. J. M. Cornell, for the following private letter received by him from his brother-in-law, Mr. Robert E. Ellerbeck of the 27th Regiment of New York Volunteers for the war. Mr. Ellerbeck is well known to many of our readers. The New York 27th has not had due credit for its share in the conflict. It formed part of Col. Porter’s brigade in the division under acting General Hunter, and consequently was placed on the extreme right of our lines, where the fight was most severe and the march the longest and most fatiguing. The letter was written with the attendant inconveniences of camp life, and was not intended for publication:

Camp Anderson,
Washington, July 25, 1861.

Dear Brother: – You of course have heard much of the battle, and the defeat of our army at Bull Run – or what is more proper if I know anything of the location of the country – before Manassas, for we marched at least five or six miles after we crossed the Run. I suppose you have not had an account from an eye-witness. Of all the days I ever beheld, last Sunday was one that will be remembered by me and by many, not a few of whom were Rochester boys.

Since I came to Washington it seems as if here, where above all other places we expected better treatment, we have received the worst. There seems to be no management but to have the Quartermaster make as much as possible, for no other excuse seems to go down with out men.

If I begin to give a detailed account of all that took place on that eventful Sunday, it would take a much longer time than I can possibly spare, for our regiment is so much disordered by retreat, it will take a good while to get them as they were before they left Washington. We left this city for Virginia one week ago last Tuesday, camped each night in the open field with but a blanket to wrap around us, and not a day passing without the men grumbling of their scanty provisions, except one day when they went out and brought in everything you could think of being raised on a farm, enough at least to appease their appetites for one day, among other things they got a bull belonging to Beauregard or some other “secesher,” shot him, dressed him, and divided him among our regiment, they burned barns and houses in their rambles, harboring no pity for the enemy who is the cause of all their sufferings. The night previous to the battle of Bull Run or Manassas, we were up cooking beef for the day’s rations, that and biscuit for the same period was all we had to subsist on. At one o’clock on the morning of the 21st of July we commenced our march, which was a laborious one to begin a day’s work of which no man could foretell the result, or who of us would be left to tell the tale, but I am thankful to say I saw it all and did my duty, and although I saw my comrades shot from my side I am among the number who remain to lament the fall of our fellow soldiers. We marched about ten miles before we saw the battle field, on which some of our bones might be bleached. We made but one halt and that only long enough to get water from a stream that many thousands of soldiers had marched through but a few moments before. Many men fell exhausted from hunger and thirst, together with the burning effects of the Southern sun. I saw numbers fall out of the ranks to die by the roadside from the effects of sun-strokes; we fear that one of our men on the retreat, after passing the danger of the cannon’s mouth, fell exhausted from its effects and was taken by the rebels.

It seems very strange to me that none of the New York papers speak of the conduct of the New York 27th Volunteers when we were the first to engage the enemy with musketry. We were led in from the right by our gallant Col. Slocum, flowed by the N. Y. 14th, who after we had reached the ravine, in full view and reach of musketry and grape, retired and left us alone to the mercy of a deadly fire, till our Colonel was shot and many of our men fell mortally wounded, at which time our Colonel gave the command to retire, or at least ordered the Major to do it, but the men seemed reluctant to do so without revenging the fall of our Colonel. When my friend John T. Clague fell I saw a dying look on his face, he threw his arms across his breast as if in calm and sweet repose, and swooned to rise no more. I had only time to order men to carry him to the rear, and then to my post. They carried him a short distance, laid him carefully on the ground, and then returned to our aid. We finally had to retreat over the brow of the hill, firing as we went, and leaving our dead and wounded on the field. It seemed almost a shower of bullets and shell, tareing up the ground all around us. After our first engagement our Major rallied us together under cover of the hill, when our boys were completely exhausted, and led us again down the hill at a double quick. Some were played out, and some were frightened out, but, however, I led our company in the second time, followed by our Ensign in charge of the left platoon. I was cheering our men on down hill, when all at once a dozen voices sung out, “Go in Bob, bully for you.” I looked to the left, and there, scarcely recognizable, I beheld the 13th N. Y. Volunteers, in whose ranks I, for the first time since we left Elmira, have seen so many familiar faces; I was grasped by the hand (and who knew for the last time) by my old friend Capt. Putnam, and many others that I cannot recall, as I kept up a hurried march for the balls were falling fast around us. The 13th were waiting for orders to move forward. I saw them ascend the hill almost to the enemy’s lines of defense afterwards, but they were soon compelled to retire. We had driven all the rebels in the fort and taken up a position behind a bank near a creek, shell whistling over our heads and almost grazing our backs. I began to look around and found the rebels had brought a piece to bear on us from the extreme east of the fort, that would sweep right along the bank. I gave the word to the men to retreat to the ravine by small squads, which they did, and it protected them from the cannon ball, however two of our men remained on their own responsibility and a moment later a shot took off one of their legs, he is among the missing. After our first engagement we did not see our Captain or Lieutenant till next day (Monday) at Washington.

Our company have missing four, probably dead, our regiment probably seventy-five or more. We are in hopes some are prisoners. William H. Merril our correspondent of the Rochester Express was wounded twice and is missing. William Hanlon, leg shot off probably dead.

I met Capt. and Lieutenant Putnam in Washington yesterday, and exchanged another friendly greeting with warm congratulations for our deliverance. Our Colonel is getting along finely, but it will be several weeks before his is out.

There was very little water we drank that day but looked like such a pool as one sees by the roadside in a heavy shower. I don’t know when we will go out again, but probably not till our Colonel gets about. I will have lots to tell when I see you. I have got a secession sword.

Yours as ever,
Robert.

Yonkers (New York) Examiner, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John J. Hennessy

27th New York Infantry Roster

Robert E. Ellerbeck at Ancestry.com

Robert E. Ellerbeck at Fold3





Pvt. Frank M. Boutelle, Co. I[*], 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

5 01 2021

STRAY SHOTS FROM BULL RUN.

We are permitted to give a few extracts from a private letter from Frank M. Boutelle, of this city:

How they came on to the Field.

I was all worn out, having marched double quick for half a mile; the fight had been going on about fifteen minutes. The rebels had been driven about 40 yards, and as we came on, the rifles of Company B[*] sent them another notch, and a volley from the regiment made them take to the woods. Our cannon were then planted on the ground they had occupied.

How they faced Death.

Company B[*] did their duty. Poor Moses Eastman was shot in the leg; he stood behind me; the ball that struck him cut the sheath from my bayonet. One of my friends was shot through the breast a little way from me. H. L. Morse was struck by a cannon ball in the neck, which cut his head off. I could cover this sheet with such incidents; but it would do no good and is unpleasant.

Not good at a retreat.

At seven the retreat began in earnest. – Regiment after Regiment passed before I got off the field; as I was getting over the fence into the road, a hasty charge of rifle bullets came rattling after me; this opened my eyes some, but was soon driven out of my mind by a handful of marbles which plowed up the soil about me. One of them made of shoe of my right boot pretty quick, by taking off the leg. The same volley killed a horse and wounded two men, and one shot struck my heel. The first brook I came to filled my newly made shoe with gravel and water. I stood as long as I could and then pulled off both boots and stockings, for they had holes in them. After travelling all night Sunday, with the exception of two hours, and until 4 o’clock next day, I reached Alexandria. Reached Washington by boat on Tuesday. My feet were so cut up that I was obliged to take a hack, and arrived at Camp Sullivan at 10 o’clock, A.M., tired and worn out. Have not got over it yet, but soon shall. It begins to rain and has wet my paper, so I close.

Camp Sullivan, July 31, 1861.

(Manchester) New Hampshire Journal of Agriculture, 8/10/1861

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Contributed by John J. Hennessy

[*Frank M. Boutelle shows in the roster per regimental history as a member of Co. I. Moses Eastman and Henry L. Morse are also listed as Co. I. From this site, it appears this company was accepted into state service 4/22/861, but discharged and again accepted prior to its formation as Co. I. It may be that members referred to themselves as Co. B as a nod to their earlier enlistment date.]

Frank M. Boutelle at Fold3

Frank M. Boutelle at FindAGrave





Unknown Officer, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

5 01 2021

LETTER FROM WASHINGTON.

We are permitted to make the following extracts from a letter received in this city yesterday, written by an officer in the 2d New Hampshire regiment:

Camp Sullivan, 2d N H. regiment,
Washington, D. C., Jul 28.

Dear —-; — “Everything for the cause; nothing for men,” thought we as the bullets and bombs whisted Hail Columbia around out devoted heads at Bull Run on Sunday, but still we fought regardless of the danger for nine long and bloody hours; and if the order had not come for us to retreat, we should have remained on the battle field until no one was left to tell the tale. Yes, all hail 2d New Hampshire. You fought well, and if you were not successful in this, your first action, we thank God that there is a day of reckoning coming, and God pity the poor rebels when next we get at them – they that refused mercy to our wounded and dying will receive an awful retribution, and the day of retribution is not far distant.

Our poor company, F, was sadly shattered, and it seems as if ours was the unfortunate company in the regiment. We had fifteen brave boys killed and wounded, and quite a number missing. One of our lost, Sergeant Brackett, was my particular friend, and it seems hard to have him cut down thus early in his glorious career. His was a noble death! Peace to his ashes.

It seems as if our best men were picked out to be slaughtered. I wish it were otherwise, but I suppose it was so ordered, and all too for the best.

Our regiment was the first on the field and the last one to retire, and we did not want to go then, but the order was peremptory and we must obey, so with heavy hears and not very christian expressions we left the field to the traitors and rebels.

I would rather ten thousand times have been shot down like a dog than been obliged to retreat in such confusion – ‘twas a fight without a leader – and thank Heaven we have now a true General in McClellan. McDowell did not know his business.

Our Colonel, Marston, was severely wounded, and I don’t think he will resume command again. He was very brave on the field. After he was wounded he was brought on to the field and held upon his horse till the last shot was fired.

A Member of our company died yesterday at the hospital here. He has never seen a well day since he left New Hampshire. He was from Laconia, and leaves a widowed mother to mourn his untimely fate. His disease was consumption that fell destroyer of the North. He was not in the fight of course, not being able to set up.

A member of our company[*] is to be hung tomorrow for murdering a woman at Alexandria, yesterday. He was drunk; when sober he was a good soldier; he never has been in camp since the battle, having stayed out and kept drunk all the while. Poor fellow, what a pity he could not have died on the battle field.

New Bedford (Massachusetts) Evening Standard, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John J. Hennessy

*Per regimental history, William F. Murray of Co. F was hanged 8/2/1862 for the murder of Mary Banks A history of the Second regiment, New Hampshire volunteer infantry, in the war of the rebellion : Haynes, Martin A. (Martin Alonzo), 1845-1919 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive