Lt. Walter M. Fleming, Co. G (1st), 13th New York Infantry*, On His Brother’s Return to Washington

20 05 2020

Interesting Letter from Lt. Walter M. Fleming.

We have been furnished with a copy of a highly interesting letter from Lt. Fleming of Capt. Lewis’ company:

Washington, D. C. July 23, 1861.

Dear Parents, – I hasten to write you that my brother William is comparatively safe. He came to my boarding house last night, assisted by two of our company, Mr. Geo. Masseth and one other young man. They had walked and ridden all day, and all the night before. [Illegible] many falling upon him – dead and wounded. But he was fortunate to escape, I trust, slight injuries. I was out around the city yesterday in the rain as long as I dared to be, to ascertain the fate of our regiment. All I could lean was, that they were badly cut up. I returned to my rooms sad, sick, and discouraged, and wet to the skin. I had been in but a few moments when the bell rung, and I heard the tramp of soldiers on the stair case. I felt that I was to learn the worst. Judge of my surprise and joy when in came my brother William, drenched with rain and covered with mud. He truly looked haggard and exhausted; but O, I could have died for that moment of joy. I could not speak, neither could he. We could but embrace each other, the big tears starting mutually from our eyes.

George Masseth, God bless him, found the poor fellow beneath, and among the dead and dying, lying in mud and gore, with the blood flowing from his nose and mouth, almost unrecognizable, and with another noble young soldier helped him here. Although I am happy in such a restoration of my dear brother, I am sad, very sad, when I remember that many of our poor noble fellows are dead on the field of Bull’s Run. My boarding mistress got supper for our suffering party, built fires, and they were fed, dried and slept here last night. William is ill, bruised and completely worn out. He is still sleeping in the next room. I shall keep him here for a time, and he will, I trust, by rest and care, soon to back to all right again. Poor Fred Willson – John’s brother – was among the first to fall; he was shot through the heart.

Our regiment, as near as we can learn, has lost about 200 men. Captain Lewis and Lieutenant Putnam are uninjured. Captain Nolte’s company suffered severely. We shall have full particulars soon. Our regiment, with the New York Sixty-ninth and Seventy-ninth, made the most tremendous charge ad fight of the day. Ellsworth’s Zouaves also fought with perfect desperation, losing many of their noble band.

I have had another hemorrhage, but am remarkably well for me. I have not seemed to suffer any injury from my great anxiety for poor brother William, as I feared I should. I thank Heaven that he is with me, and I trust in no intermediate danger. Wounded soldiers are arriving in Washington every moment, and are constantly passing here.

The Rochester Cavalry has arrived here.

William says when he left the field it was a perfect labor of climbing, for a long distance over the dead and dying, both soldiers and horses, with a perfect wreck of artillery wagons, camp equipage, &c. The rebel loss is immense.

The battle at Bull’s Run will stand out to all future time, as one of the most desperate and bloody battles on record. Our regiment was in three distinct charges at the point of the bayonet, and but for Johnston’s reinforcements to the rebels, at the moment when our men were worn out with fatigue, the day had been ours. As it is, the rebels have suffered a chastisement they will not forget. Notwithstanding their great advantage in numbers and position, their loss, compared with ours, is probably three to one.

Yours, in haste,
Walter

Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 7/27/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

* This company transferred to the 3rd NY Cavalry after the battle.

** Records indicate William L. Fleming was First Sergeant of Co. G. His brother Walter M. Fleming was commissioned 2nd Lt. 7/4/1861.

13th New York Infantry Roster 

Walter M. Fleming at Ancestry.com 

Walter M. Fleming at Fold3 

Walter M. Fleming at FindAGrave (possible) 

Walter M. Fleming bio (possible) 





Sgt. William L. Fleming, Co. G (1st), 13th New York Infantry*, On the Battle

19 05 2020

From Lieut.** Wm. L. Fleming.

Washington, D. C. July 24.

Dear Father – You are doubtless, ere this, advised of the great battle on Thursday last, and of course feel anxious to know if I am still among the living. I hope this will speedily reach you, and relive you of your fears and anxieties concerning me.

It is impossible for me at present to give you the details of that terrible battle, in which I participated, but I will give you a glimpse of the most important parts.

When our regiment came up to the scene of action, the rebels were out in the field, on and even footing with our troops, but they did not stand their ground long, as our fire mowed them down like grass, and they fled to their covers. The next move we made was to support our (Sherman’s) battery, where we lay some time, the shot and shell whistling around us thick and fast. We next made a charge at a house, close to their masked batteries, where they were shielded by bushes and trees. Here we stood some ten or fifteen minutes under a galling fire, our poor fellows dropping around us like falling leaves. We were told to stop firing, as those in the house were our troops. The infamous rebels displayed the American flag there to deceive us, which infamy they perpetrated several times during the day, to deceive and get the advantage of us. Such was the confusion thus induced, that our own troops commenced firing into us, supposing we were the enemy, killing several. This, together with a galling fire from the enemy’s masked batteries and muskets, compelled us to retreat, under a heavy cavalry charge. I was thrown down and trampled on, which induced an hemorrhage of the nose and mouth, but I shall, I trust, be all right again in a few days. Our boys did nobly throughout the fight. The Fire Zouaves, the 69th and 79th did bravely. The Zouaves made charge after charge till very many of them were killed and all much exhausted. It is impossible for me to tell at present how many of our regiment were killed, but our loss must have been heavy, 200 or more, I judge. It is a perfect marvel to me how I escaped being shot. I had made up my mind that I should unquestionably fall; but I resolved to do my duty, live or die. As I think of it now, it seems a miracle that so many balls, coming like a shower of hail around me, could all miss me. My garments were untouched with them, though like a hail storm they whistled the requiem of many a noble fellow by my side. This for the present must suffice. I am stopping for a few days here in Washington with brother Walter, who is doing finely now.

In haste, yours faithfully,
William.

Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 7/27/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

* This company transferred to the 3rd NY Cavalry after the battle.

** Records indicate William L. Fleming was First Sergeant of Co. G. His brother Walter M. Fleming enlisted as an Ensign and was commissioned 2nd Lt. 7/4/1861.

13th New York Infantry Roster 

William L. Fleming at Ancestry.com 

William L. Fleming at Fold3