Lieut. William H. Burnett, Co. C, 14th N. Y. S. M., On the Battle

19 02 2019

Camp Porter, Arlington, Va.,
July 23, 1861.

Dear Father: – I sit down to write you a few lines, to inform you of the condition of ourselves and our regiment. We have had a fearful battle. We started from our encampment on Saturday about 5 o’clock, to place a picket guard out all around the woods, so as to keep the enemy from coming on us unawares. We were out till about 2 o’clock Sunday morning, and then we were called in and joined our regiment, and then our regiment joined the main body of our army and took up our line of march for the battle field. We marched all night and part of Sunday morning, till we came up to the enemy’s masked batteries and then the cannonade commenced and then the different regiments were brought up in line of battle and charged on them, and then the musketry began terrible. Our regiment made three charges, and brave charges they were. We have some of our men killed, but we cannot tell how many they were. We had a march of 65 miles in twenty-four hours, and were fighting for at least four or five hours. Capt. Myers is all right, and Lieut. Bissitt and myself. – Capt. Jordan is wounded in the shoulder. Col. Wood is wounded. Capt. Baldwin is wounded in the foot. Lieut. Jones is wounded in the head. The color bearer is shot, but I do not know whether dead or alive or taken prisoner. The men are fagged out. Our feet were blistered, our legs swollen very much from the long walk. The enemy received great loss, and our army had a good many killed and wounded. Major Jourdan has shown himself a brave man. I do not know what we would have done without him. I think he has gained the confidence of the whole regiment, bot the officers and the privates. He led the regiment on bravely. – He was at the head of us all the time, and urges us on. You cannot have any idea of the feeling there is when there is a continual cannonading and musketry, and your friends falling all around you. It is an awful feeling. I, for my part, had more pluck than I thought. I was in the thickest of it, and by the providence of Almighty God, my life was spared to see the light of another day.

From your affectionate son,
Lieut. W. H. Burnett,
Co. C., 14th Regt., N. Y. S. M.

Brooklyn Evening Star, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

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

William H. Burnett at Ancestry.com 

William H. Burnett at Fold3 





W. B. P.*, 12th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

13 02 2019

Letter from a Volunteer.
———-

[The following private letter from a volunteer from Salina who acted as one of the skirmishers at the engagement at Bull’s Run has been kindly furnished by his friends for publication. It does not contain any later news than has already been published but it corroborates the statements of other writers and we therefore give it to our readers.]

Arlington Heights, July 23, 1861.

Dear Brother – I am alive and well, although I have been in two engagements. We had a great battle on Thursday. I was among the skirmishers. We were in advance, and had to scour the woods to find the position of the enemy. We went into the woods and the first thing we knew we were fired into by platoons from right and left – a regular cross fire – but we stood our ground manfully and returned their fire to the best advantage. The whole brigade thought by the firing that we were all cut to pieces but we knew out business and skulked behind trees, and every time a rebel showed his face he was picked off. – We went right into their nest three times on Thursday, and we had but about 40 killed and wounded, while the enemy had from 800 to 1000 killed and wounded.

The battle was in a piece of woods about four miles long, with masked batteries every two or three rods. The rebels fight like devils. They were over two to one and had the advantage, and drove us back; but, thank God, we have another day at them.

The officers acted very poorly – that is, the officers in our brigade, not the officers in our regiment, for they stood right up to the rack.

I bid your farewell, for I may never see you if we have to go into the hornets nest again. I am willing for one to go.

The bullets whistled around us like hail stones, but they were aimed too high. There is a report that the 12th ran, but that is no so. They were the only one that stood their ground. Our brigade officers are all Michigan and Massachusetts men, and they try to screen their troops and leave it all to New Yorkers.

I thought I never could stand and see the sights that I saw the day of the battle. I saw men with their heads shot off, and others with arms and legs shot off. It an was awful sight, but it was all war.

Your ever true brother.

W. B. P.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

12th New York Infantry Roster

A review of the 12th New York roster indicates five possible identities for the letter writer with the initials W. P., and two specifically with the middle initial B (the other three not showing middle initials at all.) Only one, Corporal William B. Patterson of Co. A, joined the regiment in Salina.

William B. Patterson at Ancestry.com

William B. Patterson at Fold3

Pvt. Wallace B. Page Co. G Chittenango Falls
Cpl. William B. Patterson, Co.A Salina
Pvt. William Pelton, Co. F Liverpool
Pvt. William Peters, Co. G Canastota
Pvt. William Prindle, Co. F Syracuse





Capt. Milo W. Locke, Co. F, 12th New York Infantry, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford

5 02 2019

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-
Letter from Capt. Locke.
———-

Washington, D. C. July 24

Friend Schmers: – I have a little time to write and will give you a few facts in relation to our regiment on the 18th inst. You have very likely seen several articles in the different papers in regard to our running. I will tell you the truth as near as I can get at it.

When we arrived on the hill in sight of Bull’s Run our batteries opened on the enemy and drove them in the woods in a very short time. After this was done the skirmishers were sent in the woods on the right and made a most desperate fight of ten or fifteen rounds, when they were obliged to retreat a short distance. Next two of Sherman’s howitzers well manned were sent to the right at the same place where the skirmishers were, supported by the skirmishers, and us on the reserve, but a short distance from the field of action. The battery fired two rounds of canister shot and were obliged to retire. When they got clear we were ordered by Gen. Tyler to fall in line of battle, double quick, which was done without a man flinching or asking any question as to where they were going. We had nobody to support us either on the right or left, but we marched up like heroes.

The battle field, where the skirmish took place, was open woods on the right wing and a dense thicket on the left, where your honorable servant happened to be. (It is well enough here to state that the right wing consisted of the companies of Capts. 1st, Church; 2d, Barnum; 3d, Bower; 4th, Root; 5th, Cole; The left wing, 6th, Capt. Brand; 7th, Locke; 8th, Driscoll; 9th, Irish; 10th, Stone.) The different companies continued and marched up in double quick time through this dense thicket which was almost impossible to make our way through, until the masked battery opened on us with a most terrific fire. I gave the command for my men to fire, which was done well, and then gave the command to fall on the ground and load, which they did and fired again. Then thinking that another fire would kill half or more of my men, I gave the command to retreat, which was given I believe, to all the companies on the left and part of the right wing.

In getting out of this thicket on a retreat the men got very much scattered, and when we got to the open field it was almost impossible to find half our men, as part of the men ran considerable farther than I felt like doing at that time.

There is no doubt but that we have cowards in our regiment, but we have any quantity of men that are of the best metal. There are a good many with different diseases. Some want to resign, and others want their discharge. I say let them go by all means, we want no such men to fight such battles as we must fight.

Our companies on the left wing got to within twenty feet of this Hell Hole and I could not see a man at that distance through this thicket.

Col Walrath has been much censured for this retreat. I say Col Walrath acted the part of a soldier and a brave officer. He was nearer the scence of action than his post required him to be, and remained there during the most intense fire I ever listened to, and when the companies were on the retreat, he did all any officer could do to rally the companies. He shouted, “stop these colors or I will take them myself,” and did stop them, and several of the companies, but afterwards they were obliged to retreat to give the batteries a chance for a fire, which was kept up for nearly three hours, when our ammunition gave out, and we all retreated to Centerville, a distance of about two miles, and remained there all night, and again re-took our position in the morning and kept it until a general retreat.

I think there was 10,000 men in and around this masked battery, against our brigade of 4,000. The men all done as well as could be expected of them.

We are now encamped in Virginia near the Long Bridge, where we expect to remain for a few days to get rested and repair damages.

If our sick men don’t get better soon you will hear from me again. I have considerable interest in their health.

“He who fights and runs away,
Will live to run another day.”

I don’t think I shall return to Syracuse until this war is at an end. I had one man killed, Julius O. Westgate, and three others missing who are not known to our people in Syracuse or county.

Capt. Locke
Company F, 12th Regiment N. Y. V.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/27/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Milo W. Locke at Ancestry.com

Milo W. Locke at Fold3

Milo W. Locke obituary in New York Times





Pvt. Thomas W. Colley, Co. L (Washington Mounted Rifles), 1st Virginia Cavalry, on the Battle (2)

16 11 2018

Fairfax Court House

Fairfax County, Va.

July 26th, 1861

Dear Sister

It is with great pleasure that I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well & hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. We were in a terrible battle on Sunday the 21st inst, we had a pretty hard time of it for 11 or 12 days. We had to be close to the enemy and watch their movement for night and day. We had to keep our horses saddled all the time, we have had a little rest since Tuesday. We came down and back that day from Manasas Junction; we are at this time within 7 miles of the enemy, they are at Alexandria, about place they could stay there. I will now endeavor to give you an account of the battle as near as I can. It commenced abought 2 oclock Sunday morning with cannon; about 9 oclock the small arms commenced, it was nothing but a continual roaring of course. Musketry until 3 oclock in the evening when the Federalists gave away in the greatest disorder with confusion, which continued so till a message arrived. We pursued them a good five miles with cavalry, and had a battery of artillery. Tore up everything they had. We captured every cannon, amounting to 11 pieces of the best cannon in the North. We heaved some 15 missiles on the road the enemy took from the battlefield, and the road is lined with everything that a man could call for: wagons, harnesses, provisions, field packs, and blankets and clothes. Almost every house on the road is full of clothes that they [the Federals] had to dress up in anything. Once they got to Richmond, it [the clothes] was to be forwarded to them at Richmond.

They anticipated a fine time at Richmond, but I guess they haven’t got there yet, at least not all of them, and they got there in a way they did not expect – they went as prisoners, about 12 or fifteen hundred. It is not ascertained what their losses were. They commenced to haul there dead and wounded off, along 1 oclock, and continued to do so til they had to retreat. All that was left on the field, could assure you that there is as many a one left. They may come back to bury their dead. Soldiers were at work Tuesday a burying them and taking care of their wounded. There was a great many of their troops that were wounded that had to lay on the field for 24 hours. Most all of our company were on the field on noon Monday after the fight. I did not go myself and was glad after the company came back and told me what they saw. I will not horror your feelings with a description of their story. I saw enough to see, til five oclock Sunday evening, when we pursued them. The road along which we went, I saw several dead bodies and wounded men of the Yankees. All of our dead and wounded were well cared for. I have no exact account of the loses, the Yankees admit of 6,000 on their side. Our loss was in killed and wounded between 1,500 and 2,000. I am infomed that they had a fight in Alexandria, and many of their soldiers, they had to raise the draws of the bridge to stop their men from running close off, and before they would stop they had to have a fight. I do not think there were any in among us worse whipped and confused. They had one of our generals a prisoner, and he escaped from them. He says he never saw an army worse confused than they were, a great many of them threw away there arms and everything they had.

General Beauregard estimates their loss at 2,000,000 of dollars; that will help us ought right smart. It looks to me like there is enough of things left to supply the whole South. I was in the battle but did not get to fire a shot; we were held in reserve, our company and another company of our regiment. The rest of the regiment made a charge on their battery with great success. They took every piece of cannon they had except one. We were exposed all the time, a heavy fire of bomb shells and grape shot but we were fortunate enough not to get a single man killed or wounded in our company. Our captain was very much pleased with the way we acted in the field. None of our men were very much frightened; I was not at all frightened myself. I must draw my letter to a close. Lewis has volunteered; I expect I hade written several letters to him but have not received but one answer yet, and that was the one that you put that piece in. Tell mother that I am well and have had my health first rate since I left Ashland.

I am in fine spirits now, have plenty of clothes and a tolerable plenty to eat: Yankee beefs and crackers. You must write to me soon I am very anxious to hear from home. I have not heard from father since he left me at Richmond; I wrote to him on Monday just to let him know that I was still alive. I want to know whether you have got the picture I sent him. Tell Mr. Cassell’s folks that Rufus is well; he acted very well in the field. And also give my love to them all and to Jesse Greenway and his family and Mr. Aston and all my friends in general. I have got a Yankee’s Testament with ‘Samuel McDaniels’ name in it, he was from Vermont. I want to bring it home with me when I come. Tell Laura and Sue howdy for me. I do not know where to tell you to write to, you may direct it to Winchester as before, and one to this place. I will tell you all when I come home, from your affectionate brother Thos. W. Colley.

P.S. I stated that I did not know where we would go. I heard we will drive on to Washington, that is the talk now. There is a great force collecting at this point, or in a few hours march of this place. Please write soon, T.W. Colley

From In Memory of Self and Comrades, pp. 200-201

Contributed, annotated, and transcribed by Michael K. Shaffer, courtesy of Thomas W. Colley Collection, Ms2003-017, Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Thomas Wallace Colley at Ancestry.com

T. W. Colley at Fold3

Thomas Wallace Colley at FindAGrave





Pvt. Thomas W. Colley, Co. L (Washington Mounted Rifles), 1st Virginia Cavalry, on the Battle (1)

15 11 2018

Manassas Junction

July 22, 1861

Dear Father

It is with much pleasure that I seat myself this morning to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I know that you will all be uneasy after hearing of the battle that was fought hear yesterday. There was a great many men killed on both sides. Our loss is supposed to be abought 1,000. That of the Federals about three times as many. Our troops entirely routed them. We will persue them on to Alexandria, and on to Washington City. We have about 1,500 prisoners besides what was killed. I was in the thickest of the fight where the bombs were a flying as thick as hail. We did not lose a single man out of our company. Rufe [Rufus Cassell] was right smartly frightened, right when the bombs were a falling about us. I have not time to tell you any more about the fight now. It lasted about five hours. I would like to see you all right well. Tell mother not to be uneasy about me. I have not had much to eat for six days, till this morning, and never had the saddles off our horses. The enemy ran us from camp near Winchester. I will write to you as soon as I can. James King sends his love and respects to you. I do not know where to tell you to direct your letters. You may direct them to Winchester. Nothing more at present but remain your affectionate son.

Ths. W. Colley

It is raining so I can’t write any more.

From In Memory of Self and Comrades, p, 199

Contributed, annotated, and transcribed by Michael K. Shaffer, courtesy of Thomas W. Colley Collection, Ms2003-017, Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Thomas Wallace Colley at Ancestry.com

T. W. Colley at Fold3

Thomas Wallace Colley at FindAGrave





Pvt. William Barrett, U. S. Marine Battalion, On the Battle

24 09 2018

Letter from a Marine who was at Bull’s Run

I was in the fight at Manassas Gap or Bull’s Run, as it may be called. The place has two names but I think Bull’s Run is the right one, by the way they treated us there. Out of our band of 320 marines that entered the field we only brought about 150 home with us. We were the first called to assist the Sixty-ninth. We faced them on the left of the battery, and when about fifty yards from it our men fell like hail stones. I had only fired three shots when my musket received a ball right at the lock, which put me back about three feet. As soon as I came to my ground again two men were shot down on my right and one on my left; about this time I began to look very warlike. As for my part I thought I would lose all presence of mind in such a place, but it was quite different; I was as cool as a cucumber. Then we got orders to retreat and the Sixty-ninth and Ellsworth Zouaves played on them again. This was the time they suffered; they only stood a few minutes when they retreated without orders. Then we were again called on to face the enemy, fifty thousand strong, while we had only about 200. This time we got the Seventy-First to relieve us, but to no purpose; we had to retreat. Then it was a general retreat all round; every one looked out for himself, but they took the short road and caught us again. If you had seen us swimming across Bull’s Run, you would have thought there was something after us then. We had to come to Washington, a distance of forty five miles, in our wet clothes, which were badly used up.

The route we took in going to Manassas Gap was by Arlington Heights and thence by Fairfax Court House, where several batteries had been erected. This was the first time we knew we had to fight; they never told us where we were going till then. When we were about a mile from the place they got us to load our muskets. We were the first up to the battery, where we were drawn up in line of battle, when we found that the rebels had fled to Manassas. Then the cavalry were sent in hot pursuit of the enemy, but failed to overtake them. We camped in Fairfax that night, and the boys enjoyed themselves by burning down the houses of the secessionists. Next morning we took the march again, and went to Centreville by night; here we encamped two days.

On Monday morning at three o’clock we marched to the field, and as well as I can mind it was ten or eleven o’clock when we got there. It then looked very hot. The Seventy-first was the only regiment then at them. When we arrived, just as we got out of the woods in the rear of the battery, we lost three men by cannon balls. I could not describe to you what the battle field looked like. At the time of the retreat we ran over the dead and wounded for a mile from the battery and to hear the wounded crying for help would have made the heart of stone ache. All along the road we had men, only wounded a little, who, when the long march came, had to give out and lie down to die. For ten miles this side of the field they could be seen lying here and there on the road-side.

Only four or five of the Pittsburgh boys, that I know of, were killed. One young fellow, named Frank Harris, who joined the Irish volunteers in Pittsburgh, was my right hand man; going up to the battery he did not fire a single shot; he was one of the first to fall.

There were but few of the marines who were not wounded. I believe there are not thirty in the barracks who are not wounded more or less. I think they intended to fix me when they hit the lock of my musket. You could hear the ball playing “Yankee Doodle” around your ears, but could not move . It was about as hot a place as I ever want to be in. I saw a horse’s head taken off by a cannon ball at the time of our retreat; but he kept on ten or twelve yards before he found out that he was dead, then dropped and the poor fellow that was on his back had to take the hard road for it.

I cannot tell you any more about the battle at present, as I am very tired, have not slept any for forty-eight hours and marched from forty to fifty miles, fighting our way. I wish you would send me a Pittsburgh paper with an account of the battle, that I can see the difference in it.

W.B.

Pittsburgh Daily Post, 7/31/1861

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Contributed and transcribed by Damian Shiels

See more on this letter here

Source of identification of Barrett as the letter writer here and here.

William Barrett USMC muster sheets 1861-1864 here.

 





Capt. Henry Alanson Barnum, Co. I, 12th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat (3)

17 09 2018

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-

Camp of the Onondagas,
Arlington Heights, July 28, 1861

Editors Standard: I have but just found time to send you the details of the battle of Sunday, the retreat and the incidents connected therewith.

Friday morning, after our engagement of the previous day, an account of which I sent you, our brigade marched back and occupied the position which we held on the day previous. It was generally understood that the battle would not be resumed on that day, and we laid in the woods skirting the field, ready for any attack that might be made on us. We were not disturbed, however, and the day passed as quietly as tho’ we were holding a pic-nic at home.

Evidently the previous day operations were simply to feel the position of the enemy, and time was now being taken to prepare for an attack that would be victorious beyond a question. We felt that though the rebels covered the wooded hills, valleys, plains and ravines several miles square with their terrible masked batteries, supported by an immense force of infantry and cavalry, yet victory must rest with us, and we talked of visiting the various points when we should have driven the foe from them.

At night our regiment was drawn up in line in the raid reaching to the edge of the woods, where we staid till morning, ready for any emergency.

After daylight Saturday we withdrew a few rods into the woods and prepared our plain breakfast of coffee, crackers and ham, and after partaking thereof, laid around in the shade during the day, endeavoring to become refreshed from the weariness consequent upon our previous labors and the wakeful night.

After nightfall we were again drawn up in line, and again rested all night on our arms, rather expecting a night skirmish attack.

Sunday, the 21st, dawned brightly on the two powerful armies, with their deadly engines of war, resting but half a mile apart, and ready at the word to rush to the eager destruction of each other. All expected a bloody day. I drew the wills of several of our officers, and most of us left our watches and money with the sick, who had to retire to Centreville. It was an impressive morning. The timid paled at the prospective carnage, and the brave set their teeth and features in a stern resolve.

We had learned enough of the enemy to know that the victory which none of us doubted wo’d be ours, would be won at the fearful cost of the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the gallant men who then walked in the full, buoyant ardor of health, and the impatient courage and bravery of true and loyal freemen.

At an early hour our brigade, the most advanced of the centre of our army, moved forward out of the woods, and was drawn up in line of battle at the edge of the field and in the rear of our battery, ready to attack or resist the enemy, as circumstances might require. From the brow of the hill before us, occupied by our battery, we could at one view see the whole wooded section of the country, occupied by the army of the enemy, as it gradually arose from the low ground skirting Bull’s Creek, or Run, the dividing line of the opposing forces. Only here and there could be seen naked ground, and at these places the baggage wagons of the enemy could occasionally be seen traveling along, and now and then a body of cavalry galloped past.

Clouds of dust rising above the trees in a hundred different places, showed us that, however quiet those woods appeared, they concealed the active movements of a mighty army, whose artillery, cavalry and infantry were hurrying to their several strongholds and preparing the shock of war that was soon to come.

Whenever the dust arose within range of our guns, shells and shot were thrown to the spot, and must have hastened their already hurried movements. Once a body of cavalry filed across the road in front of us and within a half mile of our position. Down the black yawning mouth of one of our “dogs of war” rolled a heavy shot, and in instant the range was taken, a heavy report, and away it sped on its death dealing message. Range too high. Another. Range still too high. “Bring a five second shell.” Away speeds the terrible instrument, bursting directly over their heads, and they scatter out of sight into the woods like sheep.

Their batteries were within range of us and might have done considerable damage, but they deigned not to reply.

Soon, at the right of us and some mile and a half or two miles away, the heavy voice of cannon is heard, slowly at first – then faster, showing that the guns of the enemy send back defiance to our own. Occasional discharges of musketry mingle their sharp tones with the cannon’s heavy roar. Now a volley of musketry chimes in. Another and another. – Thicker and faster sounds the continuous clatter of musketry, louder and deeper rolls the cannon’s heavy bass, the shouts of thousands of maddened men eager for their brothers’ blood, fill the air; clouds of smoke shut out the view, on the curling waves of which I co’d almost imagine devils were riding in hellish glee at the sickening carnage below.

The point of contact, indicated by sound, advances toward the enemy, and gradually the clangor of battle subsides. A line of the enemy’s deadly masked batteries is taken by our brave troops and their forces driven back. A brief interval of comparative quiet passes, and again and again the dreadful scene is enacted.

Our spunky little adjutant, “spoiling for a fight,” gallops over the gory field, and returns with the welcome news that the enemy are being slowly driven back, though they contest every inch of ground with the fury of fiends. In the distance their baggage wagons are seen hurrying away toward the Gap. The day is ours! Officers exchange congratulations, and the men send up a loud hurra for the old flag, which grandly waves as if in conscious pride at its vindicated honor and power.

A heavy cloud of dust a mile in extent rises in the distance, doubtless from the enemy’s retreating columns. But it approaches our lines! it reaches the ground where rests our wearied forces, where lay our gallant dead. – Clangor, crash and rattle again fill the air with their terrific music. The enemy are reinforced. The fight waxes faster than before. – Heavier roars the deep mouthed cannon, thicker sounds the muskets’ rattle, fiercer comes the battle yells, and darker smoke shuts in the scene.

Attention! Left face, forward, file right – march, and away we file back toward Centreville. Firmly erect in each musket borne, and tighter we grasp our trusty swords. “We are to reinforce our side,” runs along the line.

Bet we reach Centreville and file into a large field, and in common with a dozen regiments, form in line of battle.

Sixteen heavy guns are planted on the rise of ground, aids gallop from point to point, generals and colonels apply their glasses to their eyes. “They are trying to flank us on our left.” The dust rises in that direction. Further along and nearly in our rear a body of troops is discovered. Our line is changed to meet them and in breathless silence we await their approach. Nearer they come and the stars and stripes greet our anxious gaze! – They are our troops and a long breath of relief is enjoyed by all.

Another body emerges from the woods on our front carrying a small white flag. Is it a decoy? We send a shot over there and they unfurl the stars and stripes. They are our friends.

The distant firing ceases and the sable wings of night closes down on friend and foe, on the torn and bleeding flesh of the wounded and the cold brows and glassy eyes of the dead.

A night attack is more than probable, and at our request we are posted in the advance. Let the Black Horse Cavalry or the Alabama Wild Cats come, now, on the open field and we will show thoughtless reporters and pompous Generals that we are not cowards, and “do or die” passes from officer to officer and from man to man.

But we are not favored with a trial. At 11 P.M. we are ordered to iretreat to Washington! The command fell like a knell on our troops Retreat? The grand army of the Potomac retreat? Never. But it is the command and we must, though besides the many expressions of indignation and chagrin which I heard tears also flowed at the humiliating duty.

We were near the rear of the retreating column and did not see much of the confusion which was said to have occurred in the advance, but the fruits of that confusion were abundant. The road was literally strewed with barrels of meat and sugar, boxes of crackers, coffee and rice; shovels, spades, picks, guns, belts, knapsacks, blankets, many (27 in all) wagons filled with provisions or ammunition and an indiscriminate variety of articles not here mentioned, which the civilians and soldiers had thrown away to enable them to flee more rapidly.

Our boys took the matter coolly and instead of throwing away their things, kept a sharp eye out for “plunder,” exchanging their old guns for better ones as they found them along the route.

Near Fairfax we turned into a sideroad and encamped until morning, when we resumed our journey and arrived at Arlington about noon of Monday. It rained during Monday and from the fatigue of our campaign and retreat we have hardly yet recovered.

Hundreds of incidents occurred which would be interesting to your readers, but which time nor space will not allow to be written now.

I must not close however without particularly mentioning our detachment of skirmishers under command of C. B. Randall. They were acknowledged to have been the best in the battallion and were complimented by Captain Breslhetneider, commanding battallion, by Col. Richardson commanding brigade, by Gen. Tyler commanding division, and by all who witnessed their daring advances within conversational distances of the enemy’s line of battle and their skilful deploying, rallying and firing.

Ensign Randall particularly distinguished himself for dairing, courage and imperturbable coolness. Much of the time he was far in advance of his line instead of in his proper place, twenty paces to the rear. The boys say that when within plain sight of the line of the enemy’s infantry and in speaking distance, he coolly filled his meerschaum, lighted a match and took a quiet smoke.

Drum Major Daily also deserves particular mention for his valuable services in encouraging the men, supplying them with water, &c. He moved about when the bullets rained the thickest and did all he could to rally the regiment. Orri Storrs, Quartermaster’s Sergeant, followed the regiment into action and when the centre and left retired he came to the right and asked for t place in our ranks and did thorough service to the end. When I mention the coolness and bravery of Capt. Root who remained on the field among the whizzing bullets taking care of his wounded after his company had fallen back I have written of all whom I observed during the fire, beyond which I will not speak.

Spectators agree however, in their testimony of the courage and efficiency of Surgeon Pease and his faithful assistant Dr. Phillips. They followed us immediately in our rear with the ambulances till they reached the woods, so as to be near to care for the wounded. When the firing commenced the shot flew around and over them in a frightful manner, still they held their position faithfully to the close, bringing off their wounded and caring to their every want.

Of the whole affair I will only say that the dullest corporal in the army knows that if not as a whole, in most of the details, it was a stupendous blunder, the inglorious retreat being its culminating point. De Utassy of the Garibaldi Guards says of our attack on Thursday, that we were under a fire that no troops in the world have stood under longer than did we. Our skirmishers whom all commend are a fair sample of our regiment; and reports that persist in calling our regiment cowardly are founded on ignorance or malice.

Yours,

H. A. B.

P. S. We learn that some of those who first fell back from our attack in the woods on Thursday are endeavoring to soften any question of the propriety of their participate retirement on that occasion by claiming that those who stood their ground did not receive so galling a fire as they did. We shall not enter into a discussion of the matter, preferring to grant the claim with the remark that when they retired the entire fire of the enemy, battery and musketry, was centered on the right, yet it was withstood and there was not a square foot of space for several feet above where we were lying that was not perforated by bullet, grape or canister.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/31/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3 

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com 

Henry A. Barnum was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions with the 149th New York Infantry at Missionary Ridge