The 2nd Battle of Bull Run
August 29th - 30th 1862
Table of Contents
- Engagement at Manassas, August 29 -
- Major Gould
- Letter from Captain Hovey, Company K
- Sergeant Austin Stearns Account of the Battle, August 30, 1862.
- Letter of Lieutenant Charles B. Fox, Company I
- Letter of Lyman Low, Company B
- Letter of Captain Joseph Cary, Company B.
- THE THREE PONIES OF COMPANY B.
- Letter of Private John B. Noyes, Company B, September 6, 1862.
- Letter of Corporal George H. Hill, Company B
- Roxbury City Gazette; September 11, 1862; Letter from AZOF, Company E
- Two Letters of James Ramsey, Company E
- Sam Webster, Drummer, Co. D
- HOW I LEFT BULL RUN BATTLEFIELD.
- Letter of John B. Noyes
- From Manassas to Boston
- List of Men from the Regiment Killed in the Campaign
General John Pope's leadership lead to stunning victory, for Generals Lee, Jackson and Longstreet, and bloody defeat for his small Union army. Only a desperate heroic stand on Chinn Ridge by a small number of men prevented Popes army from annihilation. The 13th Mass., and their companions in Hartsuffs [Stiles] brigade were part of that stand.
When we last left General Pope he had ordered his scattered command to converge at Manassas Junction early on August 28th, in expectation of capturing Stonewall Jackson's army there. But Pope's patchwork forces lacked co-ordination. When the vanguard arrived at Manassas at noon, Jackson's army was gone. Jackson had set fire to the large Union supply base and withdrawn to Grovetown the night before. Manassas Junction was in ruins. The sutler for the 13th Mass., lost all his supplies at the junction with all the rest. Captured Rebel stragglers told General Pope that Jackson had marched to Centreville, 4 miles north. So Pope ordered his army there in pursuit. Then Pope received word from Corps Commander General Irvin McDowell that General James B. Longstreet's wing of the Confederate army was approaching the mountain pass at Thoroughfare Gap, en-route to join Jackson.
Cavalry pickets skirmished with
Longstreet's advance, west of the gap
at about 9:30 am. on the 28th. They informed McDowell nearby, who
relayed the message to Pope at Manassas. If Longstreet's corps
crossed the mountain pass, the two wings of the Rebel Army could
re-unite, and outnumber Pope's forces. This was precisely the
Confederate objective; to draw General Pope's little army into battle
before it could be re-enforced with troops from General George B.
command at Washington. General Pope ignored this threat,
but General McDowell gave it careful consideration. McDowell
ordered Brigadier General James B. Rickett's division to defend the
gap. Hartsuff's Brigade,
(13th Mass.) lead Ricketts' advance to the gap that
afternoon. When McDowell's message reached General Pope he
was momentarily inspired to block Longstreet, rather than chase
Jackson. He ordered McDowell to hold his position near
Gainesville and promised to send re-enforcements.
BATTLE OF GAINESVILLE (BRAWNER'S FARM) AUGUST 28, 1862; 6 - 10 P.M.
Ricketts' (pictured right) force of 5,000 men was too small to hold the Gap against Lee & Longstreet's 25,000, unless they arrived first, which they didn't. Longstreet outflanked Ricketts who fell back at dark after a short fight. The 13th Mass., lost two men killed at the Gap. Meanwhile, General Pope changed his mind again.
At Manassas, more captured Rebels insisted to Pope that Jackson's force went to Centreville. The fact that some of Jackson's columns mistakenly took the road to Centreville upon leaving Manassas Junction, convinced some Union scouts that this was true. Pope decided to abandon Longstreet and resume his pursuit of Jackson. About 5 pm, McDowell received new orders from General Pope to advance his columns to Centreville. McDowell ordered King's division to lead the march then rode off toward Manassas, to confer with General Pope. McDowell didn't reappear until morning, 12 hours later.
General King's route to Centreville on the Warrenton Turnpike passed Grovetown, and crossed directly in front of Jackson's mile long front; 24,000 well placed men positioned along an unfinished railroad grade, concealed by woods a few hundred yards from the road, and ready to pounce. As the Yankee column passed by the Brawner Farm, Jackson called up his men and attacked. It was about 6pm. A regular knock-down, drag-out fight raged until 9 p.m.
General Pope viewed the gunfire and smoke of battle from his headquarters 8 miles away. When he learned of the magnitude of the fight, Pope assumed that Jackson had retreated from Centreville, (where he never went) and run into General King's division at Grovetown. With a new sense of urgency he ordered his Generals there. He intended to attack Jackson at dawn with King's division from the south, Sigel's Army Corps from the center, and Kearney's division from the north.
"Tell General Pope to go to Hell. We won't march before morning!"* This reply of Major General Phil Kearney (pictured right) represents the demoralized condition of Pope's subordinates. Kearny's division was ordered to Manassas Junction at dawn on the 28th where he was sure to find Jackson. That afternoon he was ordered to Centreville also in pursuit of Jackson. Now late at night, Pope ordered an immediate march to Grovetown to attack at dawn. Kearney was fed up, and didn't march until morning. The lack of confidence in Pope's leadership magnified the problems of his command. General King's division would not be in position for a renewed attack at dawn either.
After his battle with Jackson at Brawner's Farm, which only ended because of the dark, ailing General King (pictured below, left) consulted with his four brigade commanders as to what to do next. King was initially determined to stay and fight. Ricketts' Division was nearby and other troops promised support in the morning, but uncertainty over the size of Jackson's force, made retreat seem like the sensible move to his 4 brigade commanders, especially those two whose men were cut up in the fight. Proceeding to Centreville, as last ordered by Pope, was too dangerous because it required a night march across Jackson's front, so it was decided to fall back toward Manassas Junction. King's division evacuated at midnight. Word was sent 9 miles south to Ricketts (13th Mass.) so he could follow.
George Hill of the 13th Mass., wrote, "We stopped at Haymarket and got our knapsacks and then kept on until about one o’clock at night when we turned into a field and threw ourselves upon the ground pretty well used up having marched 25 miles since morning." The next day they continued on to Bristoe, and then Manassas, and consequently, missed the fighting on the 29th. Sam Webster, 13th Mass., private in company D, recorded in his diary for the 29th "Fighting toward Manassas on our left as we marched."
On the 29th Pope hurled a series of unsupported attacks against Jackson's well defended lines. All the while Pope awaited General Fitz John Porter's 5th Corps to deliver a decisive blow to Jackson's right with a sweeping flank attack. - But Pope never ordered the attack.
Pope's orders to Porter that morning were vague. He
advance from Manassas down the Gainesville road and hook up with the
Union left, but be prepared to fall back at night. On the march Porter
into an unknown Confederate force blocking his path, and halted.
Unknown to General Pope, a large part of Longstreet's wing of the Rebel army arrived on the battlefield about 10 a.m. and extended Jackson's line south of the Warrenton Turnpike, beyond the Union left. General Lee urged Longstreet to attack Pope's left flank, but Longstreet decided to wait for the right opportunity. While Longstreet blocked Porter's advance, Porter's presence prevented Longstreet's attack. (Map below shows Porter's position, Aug. 29th).
Corps Commander McDowell was with Porter that morning when a cavalry dispatch informed him that Longstreet was about an hours march from the battlefield, but McDowell for some reason, didn't tell General Pope until they parlayed that evening. McDowell concluded that Porter was too far out of position to do much good, then rode off to Manassas to march his 2 divisions (Ricketts and King) north to the battlefield.
Exasperated that Porter didn't attack in
the afternoon as
expected, Pope finally sent specific orders for Porter to advance and
attack, but they did not arrive until after 6 p.m. (General Fitz John Porter, pictured right,
would be a political scapegoat for John Pope's failures).
By sunset, August 29th, Pope believed his repeated bloody afternoon attacks had whipped Jackson. After the fighting subsided, he and an aid spotted rebel wagons headed west on the Warrenton Turnpike. Pope concluded the rebels were retreating. His aid suggested they were merely transporting wounded to the rear. The aid was correct, but Pope ordered a pursuit down the Pike to follow up the rebels. The unlucky soldiers selected slammed into a Confederate division deploying east along the Pike in preparation for a morning attack. The two sides blasted away in the night, another bloody engagement, suggesting that the rebels were neither retreating, nor whipped. The strong Federal opposition did convince Confederate General Lee however, to cancel his planned morning assault. About this time, McDowell went to see General Pope for the first time in 4 days and informed him of Longstreet's arrival on the field that morning.
This significant news didn't change Pope's mind about the Confederate condition. Pope simply assumed Longstreet deployed in support of Jackson's line and the rebels were battered enough to withdraw. With Longstreet and Jackson re-united Pope knew his force was outnumbered, but he chose to stay and fight another day.
In the morning Pope's mind vacillated between believing the Confederates were pulling out, and reports from his front line Generals that the Rebels remained in force as strong as ever. At a war council, his commanders suggested attacking from the Union right, where the Confederate line seemed vulnerable as a result of the previous day's attacks. Pope agreed, but spent the rest of the morning vacillating. He did nothing.
The last of Longstreet's divisions arrived on the battlefield in the predawn hours, bringing with them reserve artillery. The cannon were strategically placed to rake the battlefield should the Federals resume the attack.
By afternoon Pope found the dubious
evidence he needed to support his
wish that the Confederates were retreating. It came from the
released Union Prisoner, and from an extremely poor joint
reconnaissance on the right of his line by Generals McDowell and
Heintzleman. Pope accepted this scenario in spite of many reports
by frontline generals that the Confederates were still well entrenched
in his front,
and opposite the Union left
in force. Pope ordered another
unsupported attack on Jackson's center, led this time by General
Porter. (Major General Irvin
McDowell, pictured left).
Pope was furious with Porter for not attacking on the 29th and summoned him to the battlefield in the evening. One brigade took the wrong road in the pre-dawn march and ended up at Centreville depleting Porter's Corps of nearly 2,500 men. Porter's attack began about 2:30 p.m. Longstreet's strategically placed artillery smashed Porter's columns to bits. The advance was repulsed with severe loss. From a distance, General McDowell observed Porter's men falling back in disarray and sent Reynold's Division north, across the Warrenton turnpike to bolster the Union center. This unfortunate and unnecessary move left only 2,200 Union soldiers south of the turnpike opposite Longstreet's 25,000.
Longstreet saw his opportunity and attacked.
Longstreeet's advance spread across a front 1 mile in length! The juggernaut brushed away two companies of the 10th NY, picketing the woods south of the Warrenton turnpike, then slammed into the 5th NY Zouaves, a small regiment of 500 men, on a low rise of ground just beyond. In 5 minutes 300 of the Zouaves fell dead or wounded. In 10 minutes they were running for their lives. It was the highest casualty rate suffered by any regiment in the war. Men of the 13th Mass., witnessed these bloody soldiers leaving the field as they advanced up Chinn Ridge to join the battle.
This map shows the destruction of
the 10th NY and 5th NY Zouaves (far left) when Confederate General John
Bell Hood's Division slammed into them. Also seen are the 4
regiments of Nathaniel McLean's brigade, positioned on Chinn Ridge.
(center) They held the ridge alone, against the Confederate
attack for about 1/2 an hour. Tower's and Stiles' brigades, seen
on the far right, soon joined the fight. The 13th Mass., are with
Gen. Stiles' brigade. (Map from the National Park Service).
Seeing the beginnings of the attack and realizing his dreadful error, General McDowell raced to the nearest troops available to support the flimsy union line on Chinn Ridge. These were the brigades of General Z. B. Tower and Col. John Stiles. Stiles of the 9th N.Y. militia, was filling in as brigade commander for General Hartsuff who was away sick. Both were part of Ricketts' division, but Ricketts' was ordered north to the right of the Union line earlier in the day. These two brigades were left behind as a reserve.
General Tower (pictured right) charged up the hill to the battlefield with his own brigade first. Stiles' brigade halted briefly in the road awaiting orders as the battle intensified. Soon General McDowell came up cursing, and personally led Stiles' Brigade into the fight. For 1/2 hour Colonel Nathaniel McLean's brigade alone, with the help of Michael Wiedrich's battery, held the rebel force in check from a position near the Chinn house on top of the ridge. Tower's and Stiles' brigades arrived just as McLeans brigade began to break from increasing Confederate pressure. Wiedrich's battery fled the field to avoid being captured just as the 13th came up. John Noyes wrote "Not a shot did our cannon send into the rebel ranks while we were fighting utterly in vain. "
Re-enforcements from General Sigel soon
followed Stiles brigade onto
the ridge. The stand was brief and bloody, but it saved Pope's
army from annihilation. Pope was able to disengage his army
form Jackson's front, fall back, and reform a strong defensive line on
Henry Hill behind Chinn Ridge. This slowed the Confederate
and protected the the Union line of retreat. The savaged Union
army fled across the stone bridge over Bull Run and trudged toward
Centreville in the night. The victorious Confederates took the field.
*SOURCE: "Return to Bull Run, The Campaign
and Battle of Second Manassas;" John J. Hennessy; University of
Oklahoma Press; 1993. This resource is invaluable.
PICTURE CREDITS: All the images on page come from the Library of Congress, with the following exceptions: Captain Charles Hovey courtesy of the Westboro Historical Society; Austin Stearns from the book, "Three Years with Company K; General Z.B. Tower, Captain James L. Bates, Lt. Charles B. Fox, Lt. Joseph Colburn, Lt. Thomas Little, Capt. William Jackson, & Lt. Col. Walter Batchelder, from Army Heritage Education Center, Massacusetts MOLLUS Collection; John B. Noyes, Captain Eben Fiske and George F. D. Paine from the Massachusetts Historical Society; Winslow Homer soldier sketches, Cooper Hewitt Museum, National Archives; Digital images of Major Gould and company B men, Low, Beaumont, Curtis, Mills, Ayers, & Cody were shared with me by private collectors; pictures of George Henry Hill, Samuel Derrick Webster, James Ramsey & Charles Davis, Jr. were shared with me by descendants.The Fight at Brawner Farm/Gainesville, Genral McDowell Leading Troops onto the Battlefield, and the Stampede at the Bridge, and 'scavenger' illustrations are from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. Some soldier images have been downloaded from various auction houses. Maps are from the Library of Congress Map collection. (Battle maps are by the National Park Service, Campaign maps by Robert E. Lee Russell) ALL IMAGES HAVE BEEN CROPPED OR RE-TOUCHED IN PHOTOSHOP.
(From "Three Years In The Army" by Charles E. Davis, jr.; Estes & Lauriet, 1893.)
Another hot day. At 5 A.M. we marched to Bristoe Station, about five miles, rested until 3 P.M., and then marched to the Bull Run battlefield of 1861, passing through Manassas.
This map shows the retreat from Brawner's Farm and Thoroughfare Gap respectively, by King's Division and Ricketts' Division the morning of August 29th, between 1 & 6 a.m. The Divisions would continue to Manassas (bottom right of the map); Rickett's via Bristoe Station, and then, eventually General McDowell would march them north to the battlefield. Consequently they missed the battles that took place on the 29th.
This skurrying back and forth over almost the same ground day and night, with short rations and hard work, was harassing. The rank and file knew little about what was going on, though it did know that Jackson and Longstreet had crossed the Bull Run Mountains in spite of our efforts to stop or delay their movements. We also knew that Stuart had made a daring and successful raid on Pope's headquarters. Therefore, right or wrong, it betokened to us an uncertainty and confusion at headquarters, and we felt the hour could not be far distant when we were to encouter some hard fighting. These reflections had no effect on our sleep, however, which was sound as usual.
Saturday, August 30.
We spent the first half of the day in marching back and forth in an aimless sort of way, occasionally halting as if waiting for some one to put us on the right road. In one of these halts we were ordered to leave our knapsacks, whereupon we piled them up on the side of the road in the woods, and for aught we know they are there yet. [A.D. 1893.] Toward the middle of the afternoon, under the protection of a knoll, we hastily drew rations, – eighteen hard-tack, nine spoonfuls of sugar and nine of coffee, which allowance was to last us for three days. In fact this had been our allowance for some time. During all this marching and counter-marching, a desultory firing was kept up by the enemy.
Having drawn this meager supply of rations, we were marched to the top of a knoll near by and halted. Quite a number of the boys loaded with canteens started off for water. They had hardly gone when the enemy opened the battle in deadly earnest by a tremendous artillery fire. The air seemed filled with shot and bursting shell, the noise of which was deafening. While we stood wondering what we should be called upon to do, General McDowell rode up, and inquiring what regiment we were, ordered us into line at once on the double-quick. As we filed down the knoll, we noticed the hospital men bringing off the zouaves of General King’s division on stretchers, and a bloody sight it was.
Suddenly we received the order, “On right by file into line!” and we at once found ourselves facing the enemy. We were led by General McDowell, whose courage we had so often doubted. We soon found it was lively work, and the boys were falling fast; but General Tower was close to us with all the words of encouragement at his command. Standing in his stirrups he gave the order to fix bayonets and then to “Charge!” In battle the order to charge is not given in the placid tones of a Sunday-school teacher, but with vigorous English, well seasoned with oaths, and a request, frequently repeated, to give them that particular province of his Satanic Majesty most dreaded by persons fond of a cold climate. At the same time you are ordered to yell with all the power of your lungs. It is possible that this idea may be of great advantage in forcing some of the heroic blood of the body into the lower extremities. Whatever may be the reason, it was certainly a very effective means of drowning the disagreeable yell of the enemy. We charged three times, and on each occasion were successfully driven back by the solid mass of men in front of us. As we fell back for the last charge, General Tower, on horseback (in the midst of Company B), a conspicuous mark for the enemy who were within twenty-five yards of us, was shouting “For God’s sake re-form the line!” when he was sent flying through the air, both horse and rider fearfully wounded.
It was hot work, and the thinness of our line, compared with the solid ranks of the enemy, made it painfully evident that we could stand the terrible fire but a short time longer. Where was our supporting column? Part of the time they had been firing into our backs, under the impression that we were the enemy. Fortunately that error was discovered before much harm was done. Already the enemy had planted some batteries on a neighboring knoll on our left flank, and were giving us the benefit of a raking fire. The order was then given to retire; but as only part of the regiment heard it, our retreat was irregular and occasioned some confusion and separation of companies.
The brigade retired in fair order, acquitting itself creditably, carrying off all guns except those lost in actual combat, and having checked the enemy’s pursuit. That night we bivouacked at Centreville.
General Hartsuff having been sent to the hospital previous to the battle, his brigade was merged with that of General Tower, under whose immediate command we fought.
Colonel Samuel H. Leonard led the 13th Mass.,
Reg't. at the engagement of Thoroughfare Gap. Probably
sometime the next day, he was sick, but kept up with the regiment in an
ambulance. Private John B. Noyes noted that Leonard was with the
regiment up until they deposited their knapsacks in a field shortly
before going into battle on the 30th. Lt. Charles Fox, a friend
of Col. Leonard wrote home to his father, "Col.
Leonard is quite
sick. I doubt
his being able
to go into the field much more. Lt. Col. Batchelder is
and Major Gould is left alone. He does well, but cannot do
everything, and he has not Col. Leonard’s voice, quickness or ability
as an officer."
a long time Major Jacob Parker Gould was "pushed to the background" as
Private Lyman Low described it. Nonetheless, he was the senior
the 13th Mass., on the battlefield directing the troop movements.
He did the same two and 1/2 weeks later at
Antietam. The biographers at his alma mater, Norwich Universtiy
(Vermont) wrote of him, in part:
"At the breaking out of the Civil War, he organized and drilled the company known as the "Grey Eagles," which afterwards became Company G, 13th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, in which regiment, he was commissioned Major, July 16, 1861. His appointment as major was at first received unfavorably by the majority of his regiment, but they soon learned to love and respect him for his soldierly qualities and noble traits, and he soon earned for himself the sobriquet of the "fighting major." - Major General Grenville Dodge.
From everything I've read about the
major, he was a fair, kind, brave honorable man. He eventually
earned his own command and in 1864 became Colonel Gould of the 59th
Masssachusetts Volunteers. He received a
mortal wound after
leading his brigade in a charge at the Battle of the Crater, July 30,
1864, and died a few days later at a hospital in Philadelphia.
Sept. 6, 1862.
Company K, 13th Regiment, has at length passed the fiery ordeal of battle, and two perhaps more, of our townsmen, have died that the nation might live.
The following letter from Captain Hovey, [pictured] stating the casualties in Company K, was received here on Wednesday:
Centerville, Va., Aug 31, 1862.
Hon. J. F. B.
Marshall – Dear sir:
I have just time to report briefly the condition of Company K, after the unfortunate battle of yesterday. My men behaved nobly, and did all that men could do. The 13th was exposed to a deadly cross fire so severe that the wonder is we brought out any men alive.
I report as follows, according to a roll call I (illegible – stained or torn).
Privates – Hollis H. Fairbanks, Thomas Copeland.
Ord. Sergeant A. T. Rice, calf of leg.
Sergeant Wm. Cordwell, shoulder, slight.
Corporal W. W. Cushman, shoulder.
Private J. A. Blackmer, in hand.
Private W. W. Day, in hand.
Private Wm. H. Forbush, in hand.
Private Alden Lovell, in arm.
Private W. H. Wilson, not known how wounded.
NOT ACCOUNTED FOR, BUT SUPPOSED TO BE UNINJURED.
Sergeant W.W. Fay.
Musician J. E. Bradford
Privates – John Copeland, E.C. Dockham, C.M. Fay, George H. Gates, A.E. Chamberlin, G. R. Parker, H. C. Ross, W. Wheeler.
Our brigade was all broken up, and we fell back to this place to re-form. I came in this morning with eleven men of mine, that I picked up last night, and I found the remains of the regiment here.
Every company has suffered, some worse than mine; but we all ought to be thankful to God that so many of us were spared. For one, I never expected to come out of that deadly cross-fire alive. Some very narrowly escaped, - having their canteens and haversacks shot through. Some of the men were especially plucky in joining fresh regiments and renewing the fight. I deeply regret that we did not hold the field, so that we could bury the dead and mark the graves; but the fortunes of war prevented.
The wounded of Company K are all doing well, and I hope to go forward and find the graves of Fairbanks and Copeland, which I think the hospital attendants will mark. Every thing is being done for the wounded that can be done. Verily, the 13th has received the baptism of fire, but we are strong and hopeful.
In haste, yours truly,
Chas. H. Hovey.
From "Three Years with
Company K"; Sergeant Austin C. Stearns; Edited by Arthur A. Kent,
Fairleigh Dickenson Press; 1976; Used
We were roused up early in the morning and after having made our coffee we were ordered to fall in and taken down into a piece of woods, where we piled up our knapsacks and left them under guard of a man from each company. We were then moved to the front and centre, where we remained but a short time, then we were ordered to the rear, and from there went away up to the right of the line. Here as at the other places, our stay was short, for I think without stopping to rest we were again marched to the centre. Troops were moving in other parts of the field, going in all direction. A part of Siegel's corps passed by us and one man from a regiment was straggling along by himself when the Col. saw him and went for him. Grasping him by the shoulder he said in his broken English, "What for you stragle here for? Return to your regiment immediately"; and giving him a good shake, they went on.
It was somewhere passed noon when we were ordered to the left, McDowell leading in person. We had moved along quite a distance when an aide came riding down at the full gallop with an order for McDowell; after reading the order he gave the orders to "countermarch," and going back a short distance the order came "On right by file into line, guide right, double quick march," and down we went through a field and up a slight elevation and there was a sight to behold.
Longstreet corps was advancing in line of battle or in lines, for there was three or four, and to our eyes the field was full of men. Firing immediately commenced, not only with us but all along the line by both sides; men commenced to fall; if badly wounded they remained where they fell; if only slight they went to the rear. In the formations of the line, room enough was not taken and a regiment lapped over us, and we were somewhat mixed together; the order was given for our regiment to move more to the left, and those that heard the order obeyed. I with others did not hear the order and was soon left with those I did not know. On, still on, came the heavy lines of Longstreet command; no single line could stop them long, and gradually our line was being forced back, although we gave them a brave resistance and contested every inch on (sic) ground; still, after their first check when they made their second advance, our fast weaking line could not hold them back. Our lines did not break, but as the enemy advanced fought their way back step by step.
When I found that I was mixed with another regiment I started to find my own. I had gone but a few steps when I met Cap't Palmer of Co. I wounded; he asked me if I would give him my help and assist him off the field. I locked in arms with him and we started for the rear; just then a solid shot came over and struck the ground but a few feet from us and the dirt was thrown upon us, the shot ricocheting far away in the direction we were going. Cap't Palmer said "I can't stand this," and bounded away like a deer, leaving me far in the rear. I had gone but a few rods from where the line was formed when we commenced firing, but could not find the company. I searched around and went back a few rods and found Elis Bruce, and we started and went a little farther to the left; we there found Tom Gassett and he said the regiment had moved still farther to the left then we had yet been, but that now the line had fallen back so far he did not know where it was. We were full of fight and wanted to have another turn with them and as there was another regiment just advancing into the fight, we asked the Cap't of the company on the right "If he wanted any recruits"; he said "Yes, fall in," and we took our place on the right of the line and again advanced into the fight. While we were fighting, Bruce disappeared and Tom and myself thought it best to be looking for the brigade as it was getting late. We looked around to see how the thing was going, and I must say that there was a most discouraging look; where we had fought at the first was now in the hands of the enemy; batteries that at noon were under the union flag, now had the stars and bars to wave over them.
Everything to our hasty glance seemed in
were going at a breakneck speed and taking positions farther in the
rear, and the infantry was moving in all direction. Wounded
were everywhere; some were being helped away, others were
all their strength to get away to a safe distance. A wounded
begged piteously for us to take him to the rear; he was
neck, or head, and the blood flowed freely; everytime he tried to speak
the blood would fill his mouth and he would blow it out in
directions; he was all blood, and at the time I thought he
dreadful sight I ever saw. We could not help him, for it was
no use, for he could not live long by the way he was bleeding, so we
turned away, and went over a hill where there was a stone
To the right as we went along was a brigade
of Burnsides men.
the farther side we found Cap't Bates of the 12th with his company;
were the Provost Guard of the division. We enquired of him if
knew where we could find the brigade, but he could not; he
fall in, in the rear of his company, which we did. Pretty
the shot and shell began to come over and fell thick and
Cap't Bates moved his company so as to get out of range, we going with
them, but instead of getting out we seemed to be getting more and more
into it, the shot and shell seemingly to come in every direction,
bursting overhead, striking the ground, and whizzing past as though
they would like to take a fellows head along with it. Cap't
ordered his men to "double-quick," and away they went over the fields
and out of sight of us who were too tired to run. We again
hasty look, being left again on our own resources, and by the general
appearances of things concluded to retreat, so we started over the
fields in a some-what different direction from that of Cap't
Bates, bearing more to the left. [Captain James L. Bates, soon to be
Colonel Bates of the 12th Mass. Vols. pictured at right].
We went along not entirely alone, for there was a goodly number of soldiers to keep us company, not going in the same direction however, but all having the same object in view, viz, to get out of the range of the shells. I have no idea how far we went, but should think it was more than a mile and perhaps two, when we came to a road, and such a sight as we saw there I shall never forget, for there, regardless of any order, or organization, but going pell mell, as fast as they could possibly go, were all branches of the service in inextricable confusion, intent only upon one object, and that was to get to the rear. Tom and I had been quite calm till now; we had been close up to the front, and did not know what was going on at the rear; but the sight we saw fully confirmed what we had feared, that the rebels had gained the day, and that the union army was retreating. There were heavy army wagons, Artillery trains and all the mighty paraphernalia of war, with mounted men, and footmen hurrying back. I should think the train had been parked and when the panic came they had driven, or tried to drive into the road regardless of the ground, consequently many of the wagons in going down over the bank, which was from two to four feet, had tipped over; the traces were cut and the drivers went on with the mules alone; boxes of hard bread and barrels of pork lined the way and were trodden under foot.
Tom and I, catching the spirit of the occasion, hurried on but, keeping on the bank, we had not gone far before we came to a creek spanned by a stone bridge. We saw soldiers fording it, and came to the conclusion that it was too deep for us, so watching our opportunity, and when a chance offered, we ran over with a battery. It was now dark, and on going a short distance we came to a piece of woods in which were a lot of soldiers cooking their suppers; being tired and hungry we concluded to stop and get ours, [since] the fires were already kindled, and water was soon procured from the creek, and our coffee was soon made. All kinds of stories were being told by the soldiers; some had performed "Herculean deeds of valor" that day, and I remember one in particular, who had his supper eaten when we arrived, and who seemed to take a particular fancy to us, told us of some wonderful achievements that he had performed, and Tom and I wondered how the rebel army had escaped annihilation at his hands. The facts of the case were that he had not been in the fight at all. Having ate our supper, we thought we would have a nap and had just stretched ourselves on the ground when an officer came in and told us the army had fallen back and we were liable to receive a shot at any moment. Our hero disappeared in an instant, and we, not having a relish for any more shells at present, shouldered our muskets and with a goodly number of others started on for we did not know where.
The night was very dark and we could not see where to go, but kept stumbling along. How far we went I don't know, but coming to a house where there were other soldiers resting, we thought we could too. I had just fallen asleep when an officer came and woke us all up and told us to move on, saying he was one of the rear-guard, so on again we moved, but at a very slow gait, for the road was all cut up by the heavy teams, and so dark it made it terrible going over the rough roads. After going a short distance we concluded to come to a halt and wait for daylight, let the consequences be what they would; so, going a few rods away from the road behind some brush, we again lay down and slept soundly till morning.
It was broad daylight when we awoke, and being we did not know whether in the enemies lines or not, we concluded to push on without delay. Going back to the road, we started on, feeling somewhat rested. We saw a few soldiers by the way, but none knew any more than we did about the battle, or where the army was. After going about a half mile, I should think, we saw ahead of us quite a squad of soldiers just getting up and falling in. We hurried on and coming near found them to be all 13th men with the colors and under the command of the Major; there were men from all the companies there. Their first questions were "Where have you been?" and "Where is the rest of the boys?" The first question we could answer with some qualifications but the second we knew nothing about.
The Major, unwilling to waste time, told us to "fall in" and we marched on towards Centreville. When within a half mile, the Major halted us in an old barn where we could keep dry, for it had commenced to rain, while he went forward to find the brigade; he came back directly, having found it up on the "Heights." We were soon there, for we were anxious to know who were killed or wounded. K had only two men killed, and their bodies were left on the field - Thomas Copeland and Hollis Fairbanks. I have forgotten how many were wounded, but a good number.
Barnard Fox to Rev. Thomas Bayley Fox, letterbook, 5 September 1862,
Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society; used with permission.
Hall’s Hill Va.,
Sept. 5, 1862
Our regiment is pretty well used up. Four weeks marching without rest, always under arms often under fire, three battles and several skirmishes, ending with Groveton, have told on us severely. Our actual loss at Groveton was 190 killed, wounded and missing, about one third of what we took into action. Most of our missing I fear are either prisoners or killed. We were not under fire more than twenty five minutes, but that was fire both of artillery and infantry from three sides. – At Thoroughfare Gap we fell into another trap, and were only saved by Col. Leonard’s determination not to move forward until obliged to, and by a stone wall. The Army of Virginia has been a succession of blunders. I hope it is not too late for McClellan to turn the tide but fear it is. One thing is certain, his army has confidence in him. We have none in our past leaders.
Col. Leonard is quite sick. I doubt his being able to go into the field much more. Lt. Col. Batchelder is detached, and Major Gould is left alone. He does well, but cannot do everything, and he has not Col. Leonard’s voice, quickness or ability as an officer. Our Adjutant is away sick, and we have only one commissioned officer left to a company. I am alone and doing the best I can, but I have seen war enough. I took my Acting First Sergt. into my tent when I pitched it yesterday for I could not bear to sit there alone. My “missing” men worry me the most. Among them is one of our best Sergeants. I would give anything to see home for a few days, except neglect duty. I do not believe it is now patriotism, or courage, or any like noble quality that keeps me at my post, but a sense that I am trying to do my duty. Certainly that is all that sustained me under fire.
We have fought a year, ruined and desolated a State, sacrificed tens of thousands of lives and millions of treasure, and to-day we stand no better than a year ago. We talk of rebel atrocities etc. our newspapers lie most unqualifiedly about our battles, and our men plunder whenever they can. Rebel white flags, black flags and Union flags are myths. They take good care of our wounded when possible, they treat our prisoners well. (This referred to the armies in the field not to Libby and Andersonville etc. C. B. F. 1882)
Their guerilla bands are cruel no doubt, but they are independent of the Army. That they have so far out generalled us admits of no doubt. Don’t think I am defending rebellion, I am only stating facts. The rebellion was a wicked and abominable piece of treason, but how will it end. We can only try to do our duty and trust to Providence for the result. I am almost inclined to the Quaker doctrine, that nothing will justify war. Our Q. Master and train had a pretty hard time. The rebels charged them around about as briskly as they did us, but he escaped, losing only a part of the train. We saved our trunks.
The photograph shows the battlefied on Chinn Ridge where the regiment deployed, facing front. Stiles brigade was positioned across the field from the cannon to the right of the picture. The gun marks the position of Captain George Leppien's 5th Maine battery, which became a focal point of the fight. The battery was on the right of the brigade line. (see map below).
13th Regiment Asssociation
25; December 1, 1912.
In the following letter commemorating the 50th anniversary of the regiment, Lyman H. Low, Company B, recalls his experience at the Second Battle of Bull Run.
Lyman H. Low
New Rochelle, N.Y.,
July 27, 1911
COMRADES AND MEMBERS OF THE THIRTEENTH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS:
'My conscience would accuse me were I to allow the assembling of my dear comrades on this semi-centennial anniversary without sending to them the greeting that arises from my heart. I am unable to be present, and therefore must be content to transmit what I would wish to speak, were I permitted to meet them face to face.
Among those who participated in the events when the stability and solidity of our National Union were assailed, a period which lasting friendship, if there remains a spark of loyalty, pride or enthusiasm, it must kindle anew under the influence and auspices of that date, July 29, 1861, the memory of which you are here to celebrate and revive, the day of our departure from Fort Independence, Boston Harbor, for the seat of War.
The incidents connected with it have ever been kept fresh in my mind. Let me recall a few of them. The embarking at the Fort on the two boats; the march up State street, where at different points two of my brothers had wedged themselves into the front row of the spectators who lined the street, that they might wave farewell to me; of being over-taken by my uncle, as we passed through Merchants Row, when he filled my hands with quarters and halves, and finally of being suddenly embraced by a third brother, who had taken up a position at the entrance of the freight depot of the Boston and Worcester Railroad, where we boarded the cars.
These are personal reminiscences, but all of you remember the reception we were given at Worcester; our very pleasant though brief sojourn at Danielsonville; the stacking of our arms in the City Hall Park, New York; the steaming down New York Bay, and along the beautiful North shore of Staten Island, to resume our journey by rail at Perth Amboy. It was while on this steamer that the two boys who had followed us from Boston - and remained through many days of our hardships - perched themselves obscurely though comfortably on one of the wheelhouses and sang "Mary of Argyle" with other popular songs of the day.
With mention of our long and tedious march at the break of day, from West Philadelphia, through Market street, to the restaurant so well and favorably known to every soldier who passed through that city, where we were breakfasted, I shall pass on to tell you of my experience at the battle of Second Bull Run, on Saturday, August 30, 1862.
The day began with a continuation of the stirring times we had experienced prior to our unprofitable attack on Thoroughfare Gap, on the 28th, and I might add from the Battle of Cedar Mountain, August 9th. Rations were scarce and I gladly accepted crumbs of "hard bread" from members of Co. H, 1st Mass. (of Chelsea), whom I saw for the first time, after leaving them during the early days of organization to join the Fourth Battalion of Rifles. Edwin Field (killed at Gettysburg) came at the same time, at my solicitation; William Adams, also a Chelsea boy, told me that the battalion was going to the war immediately. Chas. Leland, from Chelsea, joined us later; he, too, met his death at Gettysburg. I signed the roll on the 22d day of April, and upon returning home that evening told my dear old mother that I had enlisted. She threw her arms about me and in tears said, "You are under age, and I can take your name off, but you may go."
It was well along in the afternoon of that August Saturday when amid the din of cannon and the rattle of musketry we were marched into a piece of woods, where rations were distributed. My coffee had just begun to boil when the sound of galloping horses, and the clanking of the equipments of mounted officers arrested the attention of all. General McDowell, accompanied by his full staff, dashed rapidly up to where we stood awaiting orders. Some one of the officers shouted loudly, "Fall in, men, now we've got them. Porter is in their rear." Without a second's delay we were on the double quick. As soon as the opening was reached, we came in sight of the engagement, which was but a short distance away. The roll of musketry and the booming of cannon to which we had been painfully listening, were now in full vigor. On we sped to join in the conflict. It was on this short run that among the many wounded we met, moving to the rear, a Zouave in his ample red trousers, with the leg of one of them rent the entire length, exposing a bleeding wound in his thigh. Just four of his comrades were assisting him off the field. We dashed rapidly to the left, along the rear of the regiments engaged, taking up a position which appeared to be the extreme end of the line of battle at this point. Orders were at once given to "load and fire at will." Our response was instantaneous and vigorous. The enemy was directly in front, possibly not more than one hundred feet away, lodged behind a Virginia fence, and, as I have always thought, standing in a ditch. The Rebel flag, about the first we had seen, located in the center of the column, and as high above it as a pair of hands could hold, was being energetically waved to and fro, I directed some of my shots towards it, as no doubt others did, but to the best of my observations it never fell or changed hands.
The little knoll or rise of ground opposite our center and right was quickly chosen by a few of our men as a position of advantage, but they speedily retired, for the place proved to be untenable. I believe all were wounded. I well recollect that Albert Morse was among them, and particularly do I remember the scowl on his face as he fell and viewed his wounds. At another point I observed Lieut, Thomas J. Little (afterwards captain in the Massachusetts Heavy Artillery; (pictured right) as he suddenly turned to the rear, with hands covering his mouth and chin, from which blood was copiously flowing. Among the very first to fall was a comrade directly in front of me. I saw a piece of his scalp drop from the back of his head; he went down in a heap, and as his face came into view it showed that the fatal bullet had entered the center of his forehead. He was bathed in blood, which rose high from his wound, falling back over his face. I was never able to ascertain who it was, though I have always thought it might have been Fred Williams, (pictured left) who was killed in the battle, and stood beside me when the fighting began.
The splendid conduct of our Major Gould, who had always seemingly been forced to the background, is well remembered; his day had come. Colonel Coulter of the Eleventh Pennsylvania, mounted and very profane, dashed along our line with shouts intended to encourage. The misunderstood order to "Take to the woods," a short distance to the rear and left, and its speedy correction and resentment, with Chenery advancing, bearing our colors high, his stern and resolute countenance was easily interpreted, "Rally 'round the flag, boys," are some of the incidents still held in memory's storehouse, not forgetting the rebel battery that unlimbered uncomfortably near on our left, and gave us a liberal supply of railroad iron, in place of ball and shell. The battery belonging to our brigade was in position well on our right, and on slightly higher ground. An occasional glance in that direction revealed heroic and desperate endeavors to stem the advance of the reinforced enemy, with a finale of horses all slain and the men dragging the guns by hand to the rear. Soon chaos seemed to have come; there no longer appeared to be organization or even a commander of any rank; the field was rapidly being thinned out by those who had escaped the bullet. The majority now was the slain and maimed. I therefore thought it quite time for me to pass on to the rear.
In the final view along the firing line, a large and solid column was seen, formed in the rear of the one which had engaged us when we first entered the conflict. It was moving forward, displaying a flag from a long staff, which bore the "Lone Star," plainly indicating that it was from Texas.
On every side, as I walked through the field of the terrible carnage which we had just witnessed, the cry was "Take me! Oh! take me." I assisted a cavalryman - think of it, comrades, in our midst, and I did not see a face that was familiar to me. My walk was through a storm of shot, shell and other uncertain and dangerous missiles, including what seemed to be the volley of an entire regiment from the Texas contingent I have referred to. The beginning of the rattle was recognized as "more to follow;" when I pushed the cavalryman forward and dropped full length by his side. The volley was a powerfull one, probably sent to rake the scattered field. The road that we were in fortunately sank some eighteen or twenty inches below the surface, thereby offering protection to us. Bits of leaves and branches that had been cut by the shower of bullets fell on us.
It was not long before we came
to a farmhouse
which had been converted
into a hospital. Here I found Morse and Walter Beaumont and
at once began to assist the surgeons in dressing wounds.
been shot through his left arm, well up to his shoulder and also
through the right wrist. Only a few minutes passed when I
hoofs of galloping horses and the jangling of sabers. Strong
were shouting, "Throw down your arms!
Rebel cavalry were
surrounding us. Not delaying to be included in
captured, I turned to Walter and said "Do you want to be taken
His No was prompt and forceful. I assisted him to his feet, placing his left arm over my shoulder, and, standing on his left, put my right arm around him, resting my open hand on his hip, and in this position I remained with him until our weary day came to an end, not far from nightfall. A piece of woods, perhaps one hundred feet back of the house, seemed to be the direction for us to take, and we passed on to it, without molestation or harm, but I momentarily expected one or the other and our progress to be permanently hindered. I did not once look back to survey the situation, believing that it might cost my life. A cow-path lay before us at the very edge of the woods, and that we followed with strange faith, never doubting that we were going in the right direction. To the best of my recollection we did not encounter either friend or foe on our long and lonesome journey.
Bull Run was reached and forded, though we were obliged to hold our chins high while passing the center of the stream. When we came to Cub Run the shadows of night were falling fast. Here a bridge spanned the water. Oh what a sight! It rises vividly before me as I write these words. Hundreds of soldiers representing every branch of the service and laden ambulances were pushing and jamming in front and on either side of the approach, all striving for their place but only to be involuntary rolled to the opposite side. It would not have been surprising had the structure collapsed under its terrible strain. I saw how utterly hopeless it would be for me to attempt to cross with my burden. The Run was too deep to ford; I determined therefore to bivouac on its banks for the night. Cavalry and a full company, I believe, leaped over our heads from the bank above us and dashed into the stream. A heavy rain added to our miseries, but my charge was still living when daylight came and we gathered our scanty traps together and slowly made our way over the bridge which was so impassable the night before.
As I was unable to replace on his feet the boots, of my companion which he had asked to have removed when lying down for the night, I gave him my shoes, although they were an unmated pair. I had made several exchanges during the preceding days, with those cast off and left by the roadside, now a "right," again a "left." As his boots were far too small for me, I tramped along barefooted until we reached Hall's Hill, Arlington Heights, many miles away, three days later.
We soon found ourselves in Centreville, where a dreary and disheartening sight met the eye on all sides. Verandas and stoops, and even the spaces beneath them, were filled with the dead, the wounded and weary, where they had crawled when the unfriendly storm drove them to shelter. I found a surgeon, left Beaumont with him and said good-bye to my wounded companion. I never saw or heard from him afterwards.
Then I trudged along to find my regiment, and shortly came in sight of our corps and division colors. There were just twelve of the Thirteenth present, but in a few hours our numbers increased to the largest representation possible after the loss of 129 in killed and wounded in the battle, while many continuous days of hardship had completely exhausted others preventing their return.
NOTE: Sergeant Beaumont survived his wound and
became a Captain in the 3d Reg't. Heavy Artillery.
September 8, 1862
September 3, 1862
A letter received yesterday from Capt Cary, of Co. B, dated Hall's Hill, Va., September 3, gives the following complete list of casualties in Co. B. 13th Regiment Mass. Vols.
Killed - Frederick A. Williams, private. Albert O. Curtis, musician. Charles B. Mills, private.
Wounded - Sergeant Walter B. Beaumont, badly in both arms, may lose right one; Corp. Loring Bigelow, badly in ankle; Corp. John McMahon, slightly in hip; Privates W. L. G. Clark severely in leg; W.F. Blanchard, severely in shoulder; A. V. Johnston, severely in elbow; Silas P. Crane, severely in leg, Jacob H. Littlefield, severely in side; George H. Simpson, severely in chest; A. E. Morse, slightly in hand and arm; George H. Brown, slightly in leg; C. H. Collins, slightly in face, C. E. Davis, Jr. slightly in leg.
Taken prisoners - Privates M. G. Ayers, W. H. H. Rideout, Joseph Chandler, Joseph Morrill, Fred Wallen.
Missing (not in battle) - Privates C. C. Bigelow, Thomas Berry, Ed. F. Hillman, Jos. L. Lord.
Missing (but seen since the battle) - Herbert Bent.
Captain Cary says:
"My brave boys fought like tigers, none in the fight showing the white feather. The three that were killed were among the best men in my company - always ready and never complaining. I have not yet learned what disposition was made of their bodies, but presume that they were buried by some of the company who were taken prisoners. The wounded will all recover. Nine new recruits are now serving in the hospital. I went into battle with 17 rifles and came out with 17."
Capt. Cary, who is
well known in Boston,
has received a high
compliment from his Colonel since the series of battles, due to his
gallant service in the field. [Joseph
Cary, the popular captain of Company B; pictured. Cary's two
brothers served as officers in the 13th M.V.I. with him].
(From the Regimental History, "Three Years in the Army," by Charles E. Davis, Jr. pg. 110-112).
In one of the companies a boy of sixteen years of age, after gaining his father’s consent, enlisted as a drummer, being too young for service in the ranks. The popular idea is that weight and height are necessary qualifications in a soldier. To be sure, as far as appearance goes, the large men have the advantage, but when it comes to fighting qualities, it was shown during the war that the small men could do quite as much execution, and were quite as good soldiers. So far as endurance and bravery go, the “ponies,” as they were called, had no superiors.
We were all young – mere boys – but this boy seemed so very much younger than the rest of us, that few suspected his slight and youthful frame contained so much stout and brave a heart. He joined the regiment at Fort Independence, and by a sort of natural selection became the chum of another boy, who, though older in years, was also slight in physical make-up. Perhaps of the hundred men in the company, these two boys would have been the last selected as possessing special merit as soldiers. They both did their duty faithfully and without a grumble. It was always the ambition of the younger one to serve in the ranks and carry a gun. He proved an inferior drummer by very reason of his ambition, but no opportunity was afforded him of making the change until our arrival at Williamsport, MD, when two other boys, possessed with strong Union sentiments, having escaped from their home in Martinsburg, VA, where their family had been terribly persecuted because of the sentiments they expressed, crossed the river and offered their services as drummers in the Thirteenth, the only capacity in which they could be received. They were two bright, intelligent boys, fourteen and sixteen years of age, and were accepted. The opportunity was thus afforded of promoting our young drummer to service in the ranks. A happier boy never lived than he on the day when, with a gun on his shoulder, he paraded with his company. The two were enabled to march side by side and render each other assistance on the long weary marches of the regiment. They were practically inseparable. When the regiment went into the fight at Second Bull Run, the younger was first killed, whereupon the other took him in his arms to move his body one side, and was immediately killed by a bullet which struck him in the temple*. As the army retreated it was an affecting sight to see these two boys, so close to each other in life, now locked in each others arms, in death.
*According to M.G. Ayers letter which follows, Albert Curtis was struck first but did not die immediately, and Curtis was older than Mills.
Letter of Michael G. Ayers, Company B.
Holmesburgh, Philadelphia, PA, Sept. 9, 1915.
Comrade Charles H. Bingham, Secretary of the 13th Regiment, Mass. Volunteers:
Dear Comrade: I am in receipt of Circular No. 28 for which accept my thanks. I am sorry that I cannot be with my old Comrades of the old 13th Massachusetts Volunteers to celebrate the anniversary of the Antietam Fight on September the 17th.
At that interesting time I was a prisoner taken at the second Bull Run when Albert Curtis, the buglar, was shot through both knees.
Charles Mills and myself went out to the front to take Curtis off the field, but the line fell back and we were between the two lines. Charles Mills was shot in the head and died in my arms. Albert Curtis died later in the fight while I was giving him a drink of water.
We were the three ponies of Company B, we lived in the dog tents, we had made an agreement between we three that if one of the three were wounded that the other two would take care of him, so that ended the compact between the three ponies of Company B, 13th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers.
I send you this as we won’t be here much longer to meet together by person or by touch of the pen.
M. G. Ayers.
NOTE: The letter continues on other subjects.
As usual, John Noyes, nicknamed "Hardee" by his comrades, has lots of
opinions about the campaign. He mentions General Ricketts and
Ezra Mathew's battery, - they fought on another part of the
battlefield. They were moved by Genl. McDowell in the morning to
support the far right of the Union lines. Stiles and Tower's
brigades were left behind by McDowell as a reserve. Consequently
they fought alone.
reference to General McDowell and
knapsacks is an expression of anger, for soldiers in McDowell's command
were forced to march with their full packs. Other units utilized
their supply wagons for that purpose. I have added some
paragraph breaks to this letter to
make reading easier.
MS Am2332 (77) By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University .
Hall’s Hill, Sept. 6, 1862
It is now a week since our late defeat at Bull Run. I have not seen the New York papers of the 2d & 3d inst. and am not able to say or know just how our army was defeated on that fatal day. Your letter says “it seems as though McDowell’s forces might to have stood the attack better.” To speak lawyer like – in the first place we had been fighting and marching ever since the 9th of August, and the men were very much fatigued. In the second place we did fight well.
Wednesday night the
27th ult. we marched
till 2 %
A.m. Thursday Am we marched to Gainsville and thence to
Thoroughfare Gap where we had a sharp and very fatiguing engagement,
our Brigade losing a large number. Marching back again to
Gainsville and two miles beyond, we did not touch the ground to sleep
till after midnight. All day Friday we marched by way of
Junction to Bull Run x x x
x x with
Knapsacks as usual. That night we rested and were considered
fresh troops the following morning when we were put in the
All the morning the enemy did not show themselves but very little
We were ordered to the left. After marching perhaps a mile we halted in the road. I should say that in the morning we left our knapsacks in a wood after taking our rubber blankets off them. We had been halted half an hour perhaps, waiting for orders, when we were double quicked to the place where we stood up to be slaughtered. I have seen no account of the position of things when we were led on to the field, our brigade and Gen’l Towers, by Gen’l Towers I speak from what I myself observed. A wood alone separated us halted in the road from the enemy, about a quarter mile away. A regiment was deploying skirmishers from the road into the woods. As we left the wounded from the 5th N.Y. Zouaves, red breeches, were coming out of it. We double quicked round the wood to an irregular hill, of very small elevation, with a small run to the rear; in front of which hill, on the level ground were the rebels who I should judge had already partially flanked us. Our artillery was already in full retreat, and did not help us a particle, one battery rushing through our lines as we were forming. Instead of marching on to the hill in line, we were as usual in fours, and the right wing of our regiment filing right into line formed a junction with a regiment on our right, leaving the whole left wing (in fours) under a galling and raking fire to take care of itself. Under no order what ever, some of the left companies came into line behind the right wing. I rushed toward the colors and fired from that position. The enemy were in larger force, the regiments formed something like this,
As I afterwards learned the NY 9th, not having room to come into line filed into the woods where they did good service routing one regiment certainly who broke at their second fire out of the woods in confusion according to one of our men who lay wounded on the field, and who was as ignorant as I was respecting the position of the Ninth NY.
To return to the position of the 13th Regt., unsupported by any of those batteries, which were so open mouthed when we halted upon the road, we were exposed to one of the most awful firings both from artillery and infantry it is possible to conceive of. How I ever left the field alive will ever to me be a mystery. The rebels were formed in splendid lines and stood up manfully to the struggle. We supposed when we advanced upon the hill and when some regiment or other run right through our line, that the rebels to the left of our line, so beautifully drawn up were our men, and I cried out as lustily as others not to fire on our own men. But when the rebel artillery opened on us from short range, and from the same direction no room was left to doubt as to who were those troops before us.
Gen’l Sykes’ Div. of regulars, or a part of them, were somewhere on the field to our right, as I suppose but do not know. Still some were with the N.Y. 9th. No man can say that Hartsuff’s Brigade, without a General, as it was, and with no directing Gen’l’s staff did not do its duty. No doubt that had Hartsuff been there we should have done far better, and perhaps the result might have been changed, but with no one but our Major who was doing his duty, to direct us we were at great disadvantage. Many officers were not in the fight, and many others did not encourage the men, and keep them in line, as they should have done, but still most of us fired from six to ten shots before we were compelled to fall back before fearful odds. At that time but few of Co B could have been left on the field. Many left to help the wounded who could not leave the field without aid. This leads me to say that the rebels do not leave the ranks to take the wounded to the rear, but leave them to take care of themselves, or to the care of unarmed men detailed for the purpose of helping the wounded. So the rebels told Chandler who was taken prisoner. That our men did stand up manfully to the deadly storm of bullets of the rebels is shown by the list of our losses. As I have said of 51 men of our company in or near the field, three were killed, one missing supposed to be killed, fifteen were wounded, and five were taken prisoners, in all 24 men. Our regiment was probably under 500 strong when it went upon the hill.
Many causes operated to produce this result. Many were sick or shoeless, or unable to keep up with us, and in the multitude of regiments & brigades, either did not care, or were unable to find us. Many left for water as we halted on the road, not expecting so soon to see fighting, but supposing we were to march five miles to reinforce the left. Others dropped out from sheer cowardice. Hence our numbers were small when we went upon the field. If our Regt seems small what is to be said of the 1st Mass which scarcely numbers 100 men, or some regiment in the Excelsior Brigade which cannot number 60 men of less than 500 men who went into the engagement 20 are known to have been killed, 105 to have been seriously wounded, so that they are now absent from us, and 65 are missing, in all 190 men, or about 40 percent.
Every company has one or two slightly wounded, who are not counted among the wounded, as myself for instance. Numbers of our company have bullet holes in their clothes, as Corpl Brigham & Hicks & Richards. Stetson had his scalp scratched, Cody his ramrod shot out of his hand, Stone his haversack shot off, etc etc. This does not look like cowardice. Turn to the 12th Mass. with its lamented Webster and captured adjutant, or the 11th Penn. With its popular Lt. Col & Major killed, or last of all the N.Y. 9th, who stood with and retired with the Regulars, after having fired nearly 30 rounds, or again to the wounded Brig. Gen’l Tower in command, and I think you cannot justly say that under the circumstances we did not fight well. The truth is the field was lost before we came upon it, and we were brought up to protect the retreat of the Artillery and baggage train which had been allowed to be stationed in what turned out to be a fierce battle field. As I have said over and over again our artillery so far from replying to the enemy were in full retreat while we were fighting. I saw this with my own eyes, and Fisher states the same thing as falling under his own observation.
It should seem the
artillery were without
their usual supports, and we
had not seen our batteries since the day previous. Most of
batteries of our Div. were captured in whole or in part, and if you
have seen it stated that our Div. or Brigade, I mean Rickets, did not
fight well, the statement must have been made as an inference from the
actual loss of the batteries, which a Division is ordinarily supposed
to have under its care. Had we been there to give actual
to our batteries I have no doubt that the result would have been
different. The 13th Regt has too great an attachment to Capt.
Mathews and his battery, which has been with us a Winter, Spring, and
Summer, to desert it when in danger. Had we been there to
the battery every drop of our blood would have been shed before it
should have fallen into the hands of the enemy. As it was it
3 splendid 3 inch Griffins out of four in the field, and the gallant
and beloved Brockway went the way of his pieces. This Lieut.
would not desert his guns. He was perhaps the best shot in
division and a splendid fellow. Capt. Mathews and Lt. Case
escaped. Other batteries in our Division lost heavily in
guns. It was not our fault. Someone higher in
the private must shoulder the blame. The Rebs had the
in every particular when we went on to the field.
They were in position, and had the first and several fires before we could reply to effect. They were supported by artillery, and more than all had partially flanked us. We were practically without orders. I did not see Gen’l Ricketts, though it is said he was wounded in the foot. But if Gen’l Tower commanded his own and our Brigade what was the occupation of Ricketts. Who led Carrols Brigade? In the name of humanity itself was Carrol’s drum corps on that battlefield?! If it was the whole rout is explained, I may have told you that Blanchard [pictured] was run over by a rebel regiment that charged over the hill. He admired the rebel pluck, and the admirable discipline as much as I did. Remaining for two hours on the field he afterwards walked into our lines. Singularly enough my cap did not explode till the 3d time the hammer was forced upon the nipple. Afterwards my gun gave me no trouble. One of our men, unable to ram the ball home at the eighth round, threw down his gun and picked up from the ground another and continued firing it during the action. A N.Y. 9th man was knocked head over heels by a grape shot. Partially stunned he rose up, and the next morning perceiving a hole in his knapsack, opened it and discovered the grapeshot imbedded in its contents.
I slept the night of the battle at Centreville, a few rods from where our division flag was posted. But a few of our Reg’t., perhaps 50 had come in when I came to the division. It is a little singular that whole messes of our company were lost, instead of one or two from each mess as might have been expected
Curtis Killed 3rd
Crane – wounded Mike Ayers – Prisoner Morse etc.
Noyes – “ slightly Collins wounded C.E. Davis etc.
Mills, Killed Williams Killed
5. Littlefield, mortally wounded
Allen missing Sanborn etc. etc.
There were exceptions
of course where one,
from a mess of two or three,
was wounded; as in the case of Bowen. It remains to say that
became of that great number of brigades and regiments that were
bivouacking very near the battlefield on Saturday P.M. or Friday night,
is unknown to me. What became also of those countless (?) guns
not in action Saturday A.m. but were most likely booming in the
afternoon creating the most magnificent spectacle I ever beheld half an
hour before the afternoon fight when we went in, I do not
Probably many were taken by the rebels.
I have received no letter by Fitzgerald of the 2d Mass in Banks’ Div., nor from a cousin of Geo Hide, whose name I do not know; nor do I know when I will receive them unless they send them to me by mail. I have received all your letters including that of Sept. 3d, which came last night. You have received all the mail that I placed in charge of Uncle Sam, in the regular way. It is safer and quicker to send money by mail than by express. Such is our experience. I wish you could send me five dollars, in small bills by the next mail. I shall be paid off probably in less than a fortnight. When you write more fully I will write of my Rappahannock adventures. Have my band letters, three in number been received? I think them lost. I intended to have mailed them via Philadelphia, or some place beyond Washington. In my letter I lost a letter from a sesesh girl to a soldier in Jackson’s army. It was Sui generis and very naïve. I would not have taken a dollar for it.
John B. Noyes.
(Ricketts and Carrol’s Brigade were in the
fight on the Union right. - Noyes alternates his spelling of
Ricketts, between Rickets
Ricketts. - Brad Forbush 3/3/2007)
Halls Hill Va
Sept. 5th 1862
As we are now nearly rested I will try and give you a few of the details of our late movements.
As you already know we moved from the battle field of Cedar Mountain to within about two miles of the Rapidan River. I have lost my diary so shall be obliged to depend entirely upon my memory.
On Monday the 18th of August at 12 o’clock M. we were ordered to pack up and be ready to move. The teams were all started to the rear and at 4: P.m. we move but only a distance of about three miles when we halted.
We expected to move on every moment so of course we could not lay down to rest and so there we waited until sunrise next morning. Tuesday 19th, when we started in good earnest and marched through Culpepper and then on on on until we had made 22 miles arriving across the Rappahannock at 7 P.M. We lay down and slept until the next morning at about 6 when we were ordered across the river “double quick” to support a battery. We remained there with our guns continually in our hands and with shells bursting over us at different intervals until Saturday the 23d when the river having rose to such a height that it was feared the bridge would go away we were again ordered across and had hardly arrived on the other side when the rebels opened on us from four of five batteries which they had planted during the night expecting the bridge would go away before we could cross and we would be entirely at their mercy. Now commenced the fiercest artillery duel I ever saw in which our side gained a considerable advantage. One of our boys was hit by a piece of shell but not seriously injured. At about noon we started to re inforce the extreme right of our lines. We marched 10 miles and halted for the night. Next morning (Sunday 24th) we resumed our march through Warrenton to within a mile of Warrenton Springs about 9 miles. Monday 25th we marched across the fields to the Waterloo road 5 miles. Tuesday 26 – we marched back to the springs road and then back again to the Waterloo road (10 miles). Wednesday 27th we started again through Warrenton on the road to Manassas. We marched about 11 miles and halted until next morning at daylight when we again started. We had marched about 7 miles when we were ordered to go to Thoroughfare Gap to prevent Longstreet from reinforcing Jackson.
We started across the country leaving our knapsacks at Haymarket. When we arrived within two miles of the Gap we met the advance pickets of the enemy. We formed in line of battle with the battery in the road the 11th Penn Regiment on the right in a field with the 9th N.York to support them. Our Regiment on the left with the 12th Mass to support us. We sent out our skirmishers in advance and moved on over fences through woods and brooks until we arrived very near the Gap when quite lively firing commenced between our skirmishers and the enemy. We pushed on however up the road. Col. Leonard said he wanted his skirmishers to go up first and find out how the enemy was situated. Gen. Ricketts insisted upon our going however and so we pushed on. There was a large mill which we had to pass and just as the right of our company was opposite to it the rebels opened fire upon us from it. Strange to say no one from our company was hit but two of Co E’s boys who had lagged behind and who were just in front of me were shot dead. We kept on however and sought shelter behind a stone wall about 50 yards from the Mill. The 11th (PA) which had advanced up a hill through the woods to the left were now having it hard. Volley after volley of musketry came echoing down and I assure you it was fearful. We laid just under the hill on the right expecting every moment that we should get it. Our Artillery now opened upon them and the firing continued for about an hour when we were ordered to fall back as it was ascertained that Longstreet had arrived and held the Gap in such force that we could not possibly take it and as we were directly between him and Jackson it was thought best to get out as soon as possible. And now commenced some fast marching.
We stopped at Haymarket and got our knapsacks and then kept on until about one o’clock at night when we turned into a field and threw ourselves upon the ground pretty well used up having marched 25 miles since morning. Next morning Friday 29th at daylight we started again stiff and sore I tell you but no matter we marched 10 miles arriving at Manassas at about [illegible] Here we halted about an hour and then we were ordered to Centreville. We could now hear the roar of the cannon quite plain and as we moved on it grew louder and louder. Soon we could hear the reports of the musketry. We halted at sunset but our trains were reported as destroyed and we were out of rations and obliged to go supperless to bed. I now come to the memorable Saturday August 30th. At about 6 A.M. we were ordered to the front. We left our knapsacks in the woods and unfortunately I put my diary into mine thinking that if I fell it would be sent to you. I had rather have given ten dollars than have lost it. I shall depend upon my letters to you now.
We were kept in position all day in front being considered fresh troops. At about 4 o’clock P.M. we were ordered to the left and hard marched two or three miles and were halting for a rest when McDowell came along on the gallop and ordered us to right about.
We were now just in front of a piece of woods and we marched by them out into a field, up a hill double quick with a fearful storm of bullits whistling around us. We arrived at the top of the hill and there just in front of us was a whole brigade of rebels we fired at them volley after volley but soon a rebel regiment filed to the right and into those very woods which we had just left and soon we received their fire directly on our left flank. Two Batteries now opened upon us and a force got on our right flank and we were obliged to retreat but not before we had paid dearly our share for the incapacity of our commanding General.
Three of our company was killed 14 wounded and 10 we do not know what became of them. One of the killed Charley Mills was an only child his father keeps a provision store under Boylston Market. Another Albert O. Curtis was our bugler and a good boy he was, and the other was married, Williams, he was also a favorite of the company. Our Regiment lost 225 in killed wounded and missing. We are now getting rested and in a few days will be ready for work again.
I received a letter from you yesterday was sorry to hear that you had been so un-well. I feel anxious to hear if you or Fred (?) have been drafted.
I wish you would write to Aunt Eliza and tell her I received her letter and will write as soon as I can get sufficiently rested. We are now within sight of the Capitol. I never expected to be here again except on my way home. But we know not what a day may bring forth.
I suppose you would like to know how I felt on the battle field. We were expecting a fight all day and to say that I felt no fear would be false and a person must be more than man who would not feel it but I was determined to do my duty at whatever cost. When we started on the double quick up the hill I had not time to think of my danger and while on the hill my time was always occupied that I had no time for thought. The sight of men falling around me did not affect me at all at the time. I was only doing my own work but after it was all over then the thought of what I had been through made me shudder. I did not loose sight of my danger I knew it all the time but there is a certain feeling of recklessness which I cannot describe. I shall never forget it you may be assured.
I have no more to write now except to send love to all. Write to me as soon as you can
Love to Aunt Ellen
Accept from Your affc Son
ROXBURY CITY GAZETTE
From the Thirteenth Regiment.
September 11, 1862.
CENTREVILLE, Va., Sept. 1, 1862.
of Roxbury City Gazette:
DEAR SIR :- Here we are, or what there are left of us, at Centreville. We have seen severe handling since my last to you. Thursday, 28th ult. We marched to Thoroughfare Gap to dispute with the enemy their entrance into the valley. They reached the Gap before us, yet we kept back their reinforcements the length of time required. At dark we moved back from our position. The engagement at the gap was smart for two hours. Co. E lost two men killed – Corporal Daniel K. Jackson and George Clark; the latter, instantly: the former dying the same night. Corporal Jackson we buried next day in a pine grove on the top of a high hill a little north of Bristoe’s Station. About noon we continued our march to Manassas Junction: the next day crossed Bull Run. During the afternoon of same day had a fierce engagement with the enemy; The latter outflanking our force, poured a perfect shower of cannister and grape into our ranks, scattering the regiments like chaff before the wind. Our company lost a number killed and wounded. Lieut. Colburn showed himself one of the bravest of the brave, cheering and encouraging the men not only of his command but also of others. He has won to himself laurels which time will only make brighter. (Lt. Joseph Colburn, pictured).
Below find a list of wounded and missing:
Lieutenant Little, wounded face and leg.
“ Colburn, severely bruised hip.
Sergeant E. B. Scott, wounded arm.
Corporal H. C. Balch, “ face.
“ Chas. Birch, “ both legs.
James T. Ramsey, “ thigh.
Chas. A. McClauchlan, “ “
Herman Voight, “ arm.
They are all doing
well. The slightly wounded are:
I. P. Blake, arm.
Geo. S. Hutchins, do.
Henry Eppee, “
M. Olmstead, foot.
E. Church, thigh.
The following is
list of missing:
G. Hozier, wounded and missing.
Chas. E. Howe.
This is a correct list at present. We are trying to get a little settled before going into action again. All is excitement at the present time. I am too tired and sick to write much at present.
[Roxbury City Gazette; September 11, 1862; pg. 2 col. 3.]
[Digital Transcription by James Burton.]
Harwood Hospital Sept – 9th 1862
This is the first opportunity I have had to get any word to you since
the battle of Saturday and I suppose you are worrying yourself on my
account having seen my name among the wounded prisoners from Manasssas,
but I see no cause of it my wound is only a flesh
wound in the leg above the knee there is a good prospect of
my being around soon. I came from Bull Run Sunday the
7th having been a prisoner eight days I am reliesed on
parole I do not know what they are going to do with
us I hope they will send us home, I suppose
they will send us to Annapolis as soon as we can be removed. I am
out of money and would like to have some as soon as I can get
it Father might send some of my money to me as
soon as I know where I am to stop I will send him
word as soon as I find out but you can write to me now and direct
our letters Jas. F. Ramsey
Care of Surgeon
Send a sheet of paper an envelope and stamp
I am comfortably situated and have every thing I want I believe Joe Halstrick is wounded I have heard nothing of Charley Gardner I have not seen the regt since the battle. I had fired three rounds and was just raming down the fourth when I was struck. I turned and left the field and was helped to a house about a mile from the field where I stayed till last Sunday. Sunday after the battle I was taken prisoner the rebels treated us kindly. I can not think of any more to write you this time feel easy my wound does not pain me.
Give my love to
all Kiss Hugh for me
PS There is a Boston woman just came in our ward she came out Thursday as nurse she gave me a lemon she is scotch most of the nurses are scotch.
James seems to have
been reluctant to speak of his dissatisfactions with the army in the
Sept 25th 1862.
I received your letter with money this morning and am thankful for it as I had to beg papers and stamps to write with besides other little things that I needed very much but now I am all right and stand on my own footing. You spoke of Mother’s and Georgie’s letters neither of which I have seen but I received your letter before this besides the envelope and I do not see where the other two could have gone. In your letter you say you are afraid something will happen to prevent my coming home I am afraid so to although the government has no claims on me other than a citizen although the paroled prisoners are sent to Annapolis (one of the tyrannical acts of the government) besides the shamefull treatment of the wounded for instance, the surgeons cut off limbs merely for practice and to get the medical students hands in the business, also the short allowance of food another thing, in the hospital I am in I have only seen one officer out of some three thousand souls (they all being sent to their homes as they are superior beings ) When I was paroled at Bull Run I asked Gen Pryor of the rebel army if going to Annapolis to drill recruits was not breaking my parole he said it was and that no one could stop me from going home and remaining till exchanged he said the government had no more to do with Me than they had if I were in a southern prison so it wont look strange if I get home some day. Another thing when I was in the hospital at Bull Run all the officers were sent off first in the ambulances while the degraded privates remained to be removed in government wagons, a shame on such a government to allow such transactions. The officers are only kept from using the men rough in the field by the feer of their lives. When this war is over the officers can be distinguished by the pecular color over the eyes.
You must not think that I write this because I am put out for not succeeding in getting a furlough for it is the truth and can be testified to by all of the wounded in the tent with me, one thing we are treated well by citizens they bring us little delicacies such as peaches, grapes and cake There is a sister of charity in the hospital God bless her for the kind attentions she pays to the wounded only for her I do not know how we would be treated by the head doctors. To day it is quite pleasant which is lucky for us as we are in tents although the rain cannot get to us. I do not know how long it will be that I will have to stay here I would like to be transferred to a Massachusetts hospital I don’t think it would take long to get well. I cannot think of any thing more to write at present.
There is a Jacob Ramsey in the hospital and if mother directed to J F. Ramsey I can see where the letters went to the best way will be to write my first name in full as you do
Give my love to all
Kiss Hugh for me
from your son
Ramsey spoke of how well he recovered
yet his wound got him an honorable discharge from the service for
disablity in March 1863. Later that year Lt. Colburn and
Major Gould endorsed James's [unsuccessful] application to join the
navy. His military career ended with his wound at 2nd Bull
Run. James was active in post war re-unions. Late in
life he moved west to the Los Angeles area of California.
Excerpts of this diary (HM 48531) are used with permission from The
Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. Sam's portrait and
Transcriptions of Sam's original field diaries were shared with
me by family.
old Sam Webster was from a persecuted Unionist family living in
Martinsburg, Va. when war broke out. After spying for the Union
in the summer of 1861, his family sent him north across the
Potomac River for safety. After an unsuccessful attempt to join
the 1st Maryland Cavalry (Union) he joined the 13th Mass. Vols. then at
Williamsport, the winter of 1861-62. Sam and his younger brother
Ike, were drummers in the regiment, but fiesty Sam never wanted to
drum, he wanted to fight, and whenever possible, he found a way to get
a gun and accompany the men into battle. His war memoirs were
used as a source
in writing the official regimental history of the 13th
Mass. His field diary records the following entry for August 30,
1862, "Marched and countermarched all day. Had a fight toward
got driven back. Took position in woods. Fired 8
fell back to Center."
Friday, August 29, 1862
While we were fighting west, yesterday, the First Division, it seems was fighting east to Bristow. [King's fight at Brawner Farm] Took the road in that direction at sunrise this a.m. in guard of wagon train for our corps. Fighting toward Manassas - north - on our left as we marched. Dinner at Bristow. Left train there to follow; pushed on past junction, halting sometime after dark on Bull Run Creek, about a mile or two S.E. of stone house. Great deal of firing ahead of us all day. Hooker is up toward Sudley Church having driven the rebels up from Bristow yesterday. Ike found some letters in an abandoned wagon today, and although no full name or address is on or in them, know they belong to John Husband, who is probably in some Delaware Regt. Charlie Robbins reported, alternately, dead and alive. Our sutler lost his food at hands of Gen. Jackson at the Junction. Col. Leonard is in an ambulance somewhere sick, and Major Gould is in command of the regiment.
Saturday, August 30th, 1862
Battle of Bull Run - No. 2. We moved up thro the woods in the morning to the road to Sudley Church. Left knapsacks in a woods on the east side of the road. Were at this time in "close column by division" facing nearly west. Took road to Sudley, through a great dust. Came back and reformed as before. This was about the middle of the afternoon. Took the opposite direction, passing south, across the pike at stone house and going toward New Market. Saw quite a heavy fight going on to north of pike as we came. Halted at side of road, in a woods between 1/2 and 1 mile south of turnpike, and while resting, Gen. McDowell, with his staff dashed up, from further to the left, and shouted "Fall in! fall in, boys! We've got them now. Gen. Porter's in our rear, with 30,000 men! We've got them now," and passed on toward the stone house. We followed; turned to our left, midway between edge of the woods and the turnpike, down a hill, then "filed left" again going up a hill, and on "right by file into line," which brought us into line facing nearly west.
I had picked up a gun in the morning, and a cartridge box, and was covering Ike Dana on the left of Co. D., it being the right of the Regiment. The stone house was now diagonally behind, to the north. We were ordered to kneel down, as a very heavy fire poured into the division in front of us was cutting, and we could do nothing. Gen. Tower was in command of two brigades owing to sickness and absence of Gen. Hartsuff. One brigade in front tried to break over us, but we fixed bayonets and kept them up. Gen. McDowell and staff were right up with us at this time in the thick of the fight. We were ordered - the rebels having got a battery posted to rake our line - to "left flank file left," and then to "front" as soon as the left had cleared the turn. The left wing dashed forward a hundred yards or so before the right got the order. Then they went also. My gun proving not good, I stopped and got that of Harry Holden of Co. A. who was wounded, and lying on the field, and followed them up. Saw Capt. Whitcomb come back wounded, Lt. Little of Co. D. and a number of others, but where the regt should be was nothing. All seemed gone. Turned and went to the woods which lay on the left - and where Gen. McDowell had passed us - and found Kelly, Greenwood and others. Got beside a small tree, against which I steadied my gun to aim, and fired on the rebels, now only three or four hundred yards distant, and advancing in three lines of apparently a brigade each. Shot at a color sergeant and missed him. A skirmisher put a bullet within six inches of my ear, and I changed position to get a shot at him. Found myself likely to be taken, as but one person was with me, and the rebel skirmish line less than 100 yards off, and so concluded to retreat.
Passed out of woods toward the Stone House. (pictured) Took drink of water out of my canteen and ran, as a case shot burst over my head, about twenty-five yards to the top of the hill. Stopped and fired at a man on top of the hill where we had kneeled down, and which had been lost. A shell went by and the man's heels flew up. I don't know what hit him, shell or bullet, but it wasn't mine. As I went in the direction of the stone house a green regiment was being taken up the hollow we had gone up, toward the rebs. and on my right a regular regiment was firing by wing to check the rebels on the road through the woods. I do not know they were regulars - heard so afterwards, and it certainly behaved cooly and well. As I passed down the hill toward and in front of the stone house another case shot burst over my head, scattering pieces all about me. Crossed the pike, followed the course of the brook; met Adj't Bradley, told him there was but one of the Regiment in that direction and he turned back. We followed the brook to the road again, and then turned back towards the field. Found a battery engaged at the house to south side of turnpike but none of our Regiment. Went toward stone bridge, and found a remnant- about 25% of each regiment in the brigade - at next house to north of road near stone bridge, supporting a battery. Was a fine looking object. Had gotten my face as black as powder could make it, because, my ramrod being fitted too tightly, I let it stick out of the socket, whereby the end got blackened at each discharge, and my hands also. Each time I drew it, and having no time to get out a handkerchief I used my hands to wipe off the perspirations. Lost my photographs, stamps and letters, with my knapsack. Had kept my blankets with me.
BY GEORGE F. D. PAINE.
"Porter is behind the
Rebs driving them
right on to you. Hold
them and you have them," shouted a mounted aide-de-camp as he
to our brigade resting by the roadside.
"Fall in" came the sharp command of our major. And in a trice our columns at double quick were rushing to a position to intercept the supposed fleeing foe.
How little we knew! It was not for us to know, only to obey orders, blunder or no blunder, simply to do as bid and take the consequences.
It was late in the afternoon Aug. 30, 1862, on the fated Bull Run battlefield. All day long the two armies had confronted each other, maneuvering for a position to strike the decisive blow and now it had come. Behind concealing hills and forests the enemy had concentrated all their strength opposite our left.
Suddenly the ball opened, 'twas bedlam let loose. Hundreds of rebel cannons spoke at once, and hundreds on our side replied causing the very earth to shake. Solid shot came plunging; shells came shrieking, and three feet lengths of railroad iron fired from smooth bored cannon came whistling, screaming. The air was filled with death-dealing missiles; and all concentrated on our left. A low range of hills just in front crowned by our artillery and a supporting line of infantry were swept like dry leaves from an oak in early winter, struck by a sudden gust of wind.
A second line was rushed up to hold the hill, but that too went down, and now we fairly formed in line were ordered to take their place, not a man of us but knew it meant probable death. The order came sharp and imperative:
"Fix bayonets ! forward !" and on and up we went.
It was a time to test the strongest nerve. Some turned, and with blanched faces fled; but most kept on.
Was I scared? What
do you think?
Put yourself in my place.
A moment more we were at the summit, and in the swirl of the storm. Dead and wounded thickly strewed the ground or lay in heaps. Shot and shell gave place to hissing, zipping bullets. The plain in front was gray with moving men advancing in front and swinging by our left with a constant, scathing and enfilading fire. It seemed like a terrible storm of hail driven aslant by a fierce wind.
Our boys dropped like tenpins before an expert player. Ten feet to my left the tall sergeant of Company F sank down in a heap, shot squarely through the head. I saw the brain ooze out. My left hand mate whirled, shot through the shoulder. F. went down with a bullet through the face. S. was swearing "like mad," shot through the thigh. A man I did not recognize dropped just in front.
I heard the bullets chug into his body; it seemed half a dozen struck him. I shall never forget the look on his face as he turned over and died.
Up the hill to the right came a column of "Rebs" by the flank, led by an officer on a white horse, waving his sword and cheering them on. One single gun was left undismounted of the battery stationed there ; and behind it with lighted fuse stood a solitary gunner, who, depressing the muzzle to sweep the column, fired with terrible execution. Just then the officer with a terrific blow clove his skull, while at the same moment a bayonet thrust by one of our men toppled him off his horse. (Col. Allen, 1st Va.)
One tries at such a time to make himself as small as possible; I stood sidewise and drew in my stomach to let the bullets pass. One struck my rifle just ahead of the lock (that saved my groin) and went skipping over my shoulder.Something struck my leg, knocking it from under, and left me sprawling and benumbed. P. was lifting me up. "Are you hit hard? leg broken? "
I did not know, the blood was spurting out in jets. No not broken, I could move it. "Shall I help you off?" "No, I can manage alone, but guess I'd better leave. Goodbye, old boy, I'll see you later." And so I limped to the rear.
It would not seem the time or place to laugh, but men are queer. The blood was streaming from a gunshot wound through the buttock of one of our boys, and the orderly sergeant was trying to make him go to the rear. But cursing loud he swore he would not until he received a more honorable wound.
A little way down the hill I met more of our men coming up. (Sigel's men) The smoke was thick and the excitement great, so no wonder one of the men mistook me for the foe and lunged at me with his bayonet. I turned it aside at the expense of a badly lacerated hand, but saved my life, for it passed through my shirt, grazing the skin.
A little further back down in the hollow stood a solitary stone farmhouse, floating a red flag, indicating a temporary hospital, where the wounded could be cared for and be safe from shell and shot. Thither I turned my steps. Just then a shot struck the gable end, knocking a hole that looked as big as a bushel basket, so I thought it safer to keep on.
I next came to a troop of cavalry in line with drawn sabers to stop and hold the runaways. They took me for one and barred my passage. One rushed at me with raised sword as if about to strike, and ordered me:
"About face, form in line," with a lot of others who were trying to get to the rear. I began to think it hard lines and that I would be safer with the "grays."
General McDowell just then rode up. He was wringing his hands in anguish and crying :
"The battle is lost! The battle is lost! My God, the battle is lost !" Catching sight of my bloody leg he shouted to the trooper:
"Let him pass, don't you see he is wounded?" and so I escaped again.
A little farther on I came to an ambulance and two surgeons, who hastily bandaged my wound, an ugly hole through the calf, lacerating the cords, but just missing the bone, and using my gun for a crutch I hobbled on, keeping out of the main road which was now crowded with army wagons, ambulances and soldiers hurrying to the rear to escape the shells which continued to fly at intervals over our heads, or bursting in their midst.
A solid shot struck the ground just behind an ambulance drawn by two mules, it bounded and went hurtling through the top, barely missing the driver's head, and the sight as he leaned forward and frantically lashed the mules into a run was so comical I had to laugh again.
And now I began to get faint from loss of blood, and the wounded cords contracting caused intense pain. The excitement had kept me up till then. So I sought a place to rest; and this I found behind a large black walnut tree. No shot could reach me, no wheel run over me or horse trample me; and there I rested.
So this was the end. To be taken prisoner was but little better than being shot, so many died in prison, but I could do no more. I knew I would be searched, but I had but little, twenty-nine cents in cash I counted, my cartridges I dug a hole with my knife and buried.
My clothes I did not worry about, as they were too poor for even the half-naked "Rebs" to want. An old woolen army shirt, much soiled, pants with one leg split to the knee, one shoe, one boot with the leg cut off, a straw hat with half the brim gone, and a much worn rubber blanket completed my entire wardrobe.
Canteen and haversack both empty. To such straits had "the pomp and circumstance of glorious war" reduced us. It was a grim, but real satisfaction. Wouldn't they be mad?
Our forces slowly retreated, turning and firing as they went. The main body had held steady though fearfully reduced in numbers, not running like those at the first Bull Run. These were veterans now, and it was with a stubborn sullenness that they fell back disputing the ground foot by foot. The last were passing along the highway, ten rods to the left and feeling now that my time was nearly up, I closed my eyes and leaned back in submission to the inevitable.
Just then I heard a shout:
"Hello ! young fellow, what are you sitting there for? Hurry up or you will be caught."
A soldier had left the road and was coming rapidly toward me.
"Oh, you are wounded; may I help you ? Let me try."
An angel from heaven could not have been more welcome. With my gun for a crutch, and his shoulder on the other side, we were soon hobbling along at a fairly good pace. I found he belonged to the ambulance corps. So it was right in his line to help me.
"How did you happen to see me?" I asked.
"I don't know, something must have attracted my eyes that way; I thought it might be some one hit so came out to see."
For half an hour we
kept along, my wound
had become more painful and
every step was agony and we were fast losing ground, both must soon be
overtaken. Finally utterly exhausted, I sank down in a
"I will try to get you to another tree, but will have to leave you there."
Just as I was lying down we saw two soldiers detach themselves from the moving mass in the road and come swinging toward us. Great, stalwart six-footers, with skin caps, tipped by the tail of a buck, made them look a foot taller. They belonged to the Pennsylvania Buck Tail Rifles, recruited from the mountains-
"What are you doing with that boy?" they shouted as they approached. An explanation brought the reply:
"No, he won't be left. You take our guns and we will take him."
Extending arms from shoulder to shoulder they stooped down, scaled me across, and thus like a Spartan victor I was borne rapidly onward.
"Why did you come?" I asked.
"Oh, we just happened to see you."
Soldiers are sometimes called selfish men. Here were three men I never saw before, and have never seen since, risking life and capture to help a stranger to a place of safety. I have since had many a ride on horses, mules, donkeys, camels and elephants, but never such a ride as this or one that gave me half as much satisfaction.
Darkness had now come on and a drizzling rain. Fainter and fainter had grown the firing and now entirely ceased. We had come to a river which in the darkness looked deep and wide, and it was now proposed, as I was practically out of danger, that they would leave me in the woods bordering the road, where in the morning I would be sure to be found and cared for. This being left did not at all suit me, but they had done nobly by me, were quite exhausted and wished to find their regiment.
There was no bridge across the river, and it looked too deep to ford. We had to cross the road to reach the woods and in doing so came plumb against an army wagon, drawn by four mules.
What a Godsend to me and just in time. Quickly and without as much as saying by your leave, I was hoisted from their shoulders on to the seat beside the protesting driver. But he, finding I was a wounded man, graciously accepted the situation. A canteen of water was thrust into my hands and the three vanished into the night.
I did not get their names. What would I not give to know them now !
"Why were you halting by the stream?" I asked the driver.
"God knows, except it was for you."
Fording the stream, which proved to be "Broad Run," two miles more brought us to Centreville, consisting of a few scattered houses. We stopped opposite one with a piazza in front, covered thickly with sleeping soldiers scattered from their broken regiments. It was raining now quite hard, and as I crawled down from the wagon and leaned against the railing I could not repress a groan.
"Are you wounded?" asked a voice.
"Yes." "Take my place." And leaning down the owner gently pulled me up and laid me down in his snug harbor.
How was that for an unselfish deed ! As I thanked him with a heart full of gratitude and lay back in peaceful content another voice asked:
"Frank, is this you?"
He was the drummer of our company I had crawled in beside.
Did it just happen? Was it all pure accident? A hundred thousand soldiers scattered over the country miles around from twice as many regiments, broken and disorganized. How came I to crawl into this particular spot?
My comrade drew his blanket over me, and with the ninety-first psalm humming in my heart, I was soon asleep.
When I awoke the sun was shining brightly and just in front stood my companion with a big loaf of white bread in one hand and a steaming dipper of coffee in the other; my breakfast. Just behind him with door invitingly open was a carriage drawn by two horses.
"Hurry up! " said F., "they are waiting to carry you to Washington." Four others, all wounded, got in and we were soon on our way to the capital, twenty-five miles distant. The news had been flashed to the city, "a great battle, ten thousand killed and wounded. Send surgeons and carriages."
The roads were in a fearful condition, and it was 11 o'clock before we found shelter. The hospitals were already crowded and most of the churches turned into hospitals to receive the wounded. As we drove from place to place and halted again and again, the answer came:
"All full." At the Eighth Street Congregational Church we found room.
I shall never forget the sensation when the great doors opened wide and the light streamed out revealing the long rows of white cots with nurses also in white, standing expectant. It was a hard jaunt, that twenty-five miles over the rough roads, wounded and sore as we were. Will heaven with its pearly gates be more welcome?
A big Irish boy came out and took us one by one in his strong arms, and as tenderly as a mother ever carried an infant, bore us to our cots. Soft beds and white linen. It seemed too good to be true. The old blood-stained garments were removed; we were bathed, wounds dressed, a bowl of soup, a cup of tea. Thankful? happy? the words don't describe it. It was Paradise.
But the end was not yet. There were more blessings to follow. In the morning when I awoke, the sun shone in, and as I opened my eyes they looked up into the face of Mr. ------ Morse, a member of our church in Cambridge, Mass., and a good friend.
"What in the world! How came you here?" "I was stopping awhile in Washington and was passing by and having heard of the battle, thought I would look in to see if there were any I knew, and had just reached your cot when you awoke."
Quick transit; close connections, no accidents.
Did it all just happen?
NOTE: George F. D. Paine was very successful in life and a
partner in Boston's landmark business 'Paine Furniture Company."
Excerpts from this article were placed on the third brigade marker at
Manassas National Battlefield Park.
MS Am2332 (84) By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University .
German Reformed Sunday School Hospital
Chestnut Street, Harrisburgh, Pa Sept. 26, ‘62
I wrote a note yesterday home, expecting to send it by Mr. Stimpson, but as he was not going home for some time I sent it by mail. I have been at a loss as to where I should have letters directed. Perhaps you had better direct to the hospital as above described in full, to John B Noyes, Co B, 13th Mass Vols.
In a letter some time ago you asked me how it happened that out of our Regiment only about 500 men were in the fight at Bull Run. In this letter I will endeavor to show how it is that our army is shorn of its strength, so that no such force can be brought against the enemy as can be arrayed in figures before a wrangling congress.
In the first place the quartermaster’s department takes many men. Two of our Company for instance are in the Brigade Commissary department. One has an ambulance, two others are on the teams, one is the Captain's cook (against regulations) two others assist in the hospital. Four men and a Corporal from our Co. are on the cattle guard, although our proportion would be only one. One is adjutant’s clerk. Fourteen men are already accounted for, reducing the number to 83. Five men have received Lieutenancies, two in the regular and three in the volunteer service. One absent since last September died about a fortnight ago. The number is now reduced to 78. Two men died, one from drowning, the other after obtaining his discharge. Seventy six. Some more have been discharged. One is off recruiting. A few who went to the hospital never returned, having preferred to remain as nurses wardens &c. A large number fell out at the first note of battle. They smell the affray from afar. They suddenly find that their canteens are empty, that their feet are very sore indeed, although until the guns began to boom they never marched better. Incompetent officers at the root of the whole matter. Thus it happened that we went into the fight at Bull Run with but 47 guns in our company. Two men were detailed on the knapsacks and about 10 men left the ranks with the intention of not returning till the fight ended. Some of these were taken prisoners.
After we left Washington and came within sight of South Mountain our ranks were pretty full – that is all except the sick and stragglers of a week or fortnight had come up. But within a mile of the battlefield, when the musketry became heavy, such straggling came upon our brigade, which til then knew no straggling on that day, as was fearful to behold. Full a third of our regiment, I had almost said fell out. At least 70 or 80 were with the knapsacks the next day. These men might have come to Keedysville after the battle of Sunday, but they were too wise.
The men who thus fall out and fail to come to time are the loud talkers, the brave men in camp who can whip the rebels by looking at them, cowards at heart but brave of tongue, able bodied and healthy men, bummers and shirks. There is a way to punish these men. A general order of McClellan applies to the very case of stragglers and subjects stragglers to deprivation of pay and to other punishment. To enforce these penalties officers who know and will perform their duty are alone required. There are men in my company I am ashamed to say who have sneaked out of the ranks at every fight, or appearance of a fight from Bull Run down.
A word now about our
is a Captain in our
regiment, one of the best educated ones too & a capital
who betook himself off of Bull Run so quick that he left his sword
behind him. He was whole in his skin too. This same
remained with the knapsacks and did not come up to the regiment till
after the battle of Antietam was fought. Such an officer
be broken forth with. He would not have remained behind had
Col. been in command. (Fiske) [Captain Eben Fiske,
pictured right, above].
Captain, our hero for many
months, on account of
Bolivar Heights, turned out the coward that he was at Bull
Then the Colonel in an ambulance came upon him by the
He was with the Regt till it left its knapsacks. He told the
His foot was sore! Since Bull Run he has been away from the
regiment altogether. (Jackson) [Capt.
William Jackson, Co. C; pictured, left].
The adjutant is
another of these good for
nothing officers. Drunk
on parade often, his knowledge of his duties alone saved him from
dismissal. He has shown himself a coward since we came into
active service. He was in the fight at Bull Run doing
nothing. He came off the field safe and sound and filled the
canteens of two or three of our wounded Sunday morning. He
disappeared however and next turned up in Washington. From
he telegraphed home something to this effect “Adjt Bradley, 13th Mass
Vols while crossing Bull Run on the day of the fight [running hard] was
injured by a cavalry man, the horse badly spraining and twisting his
leg, “he will probably survive his injuries”. Now the author
this lying dispatch is an arrant coward, and is able to be with his
regiment to day. [Adjutant
David H. Bradlee, the subject of Noyes' disdain, pictured right].
Our brave Major, half sick, is left to take care of the regiment. But six line officers were with the regiment on the evening of the fight at Antietam, besides Captain Cary, and one of these was wounded at Bull Run, and has ridden in an ambulance almost all the time since. He was in the fight, has true grit and is a brave man. His name is Lieut. Colburn of Co. E.
I have said that Lieut. Fox and Capt Hovey of our Regiment, who were wounded, the first in the hand, the other in the face, instead of leaving for home as they had the chance to, remained at Hagerstown to see that the wounded of our regiment were well taken care of.
Mr. Stimpson called again this morning. He is going to Washington to the war department to get us off. The medical director says he has no authority to give furlough. I have faith in Mr. Stimpson.
Hoping to receive
papers from home
I am Yours Truly
John B Noyes
to Capt. Fiske, I have a letter
from his brother in law John L. Sargent, to Col. Leonard, dated Nov.
30th, 1862. “Sir I feel very anxious as to the condition of my brother
in law Captain Eben W. Fiske, - Captain of Company G. … He
been, for some time past, as you are doubtless aware, invalid and
disabled in Washington till the late movement of your division of the
Army requiring his presence as that of other officers, at the post of
duty, he conscientiously struggled up to his position, sick and lame as
he was. … Indeed the whole tenor of his letters for two months past has
been so painfully expressive of his illness and sufferings that I had
no expectation of his being able to rejoin the Regiment. -
has only twice, while at Washington, through his letters, intimated a
wish to have a furlough, and then with the express contingency of
returning to his post when recruited.” (Col.
Papers; Gilder Lehrman Collection, NY). I also have reference
Fiske in the manuscript diary of Samuel Derrick Webster, Co. D,
(Huntington Library, San Marino, CA). Webster
Fiske, (Co. G.) came to the rear about midnight, with “rheumatism n the
knees.” The 9th fellows hooted at him. He wouldn’t let a man
out during the day, and was himself first out at sight of
danger.” Monday, Sept. 15th (1862).
Re: Capt. Jackson, there is a letter among Col. Leonard’s papers, (Gilder Lehrman Collection) to Gov. Andrew of Mass. from Capt. Joseph Cary, Co. B. 13th Mass, dated Nov. 30th 1862: “I have with regret heard that it is proposed at home to make Capt. W. H. Jackson of this regiment, a Major of Cavalry in the regiment now forming in our State. Personally it does not effect me in line of promotion, but justice to others in this regiment would demand his immediate dismissal from service on the charge of “cowardice in the face of the enemy”, a charge which I am prepared to prove at any time.” A copy of this letter was forwarded to Col. Leonard for comment from the Governor’s office. The Mass. Adjt. Gen'ls report does not list Capt. Jackson as having served in any other regt. besides the 13th Mass., so perhaps Capt. Cary was successful in ending Jackson's military career. After the war nonetheless, Capt. Jackson was welcome at re-unions. – Brad Forbush 3/05/2007.
From 13th Regiment Association Circular #25; Dec. 1, 1912
The following narrative is an account of what occurred to me from the time I was wounded until I reached home. It is a disagreeable commentary on the management of Carver hospital, Washington. It would be unfair to assume that such proceedings were common among other hospitals. During the years '63 and '64 a great improvement was made in the care of the sick and wounded. When the war broke out the army consisted of only 12,000 men, so that the necessity for hospitals was very limited and little experience in the management of large hospitals had been acquired. In establishing hospitals adequate to meet the demands growing out of the severe and frequent battles of the first year of the war, the Government accepted the services of many incompetent men whose only desire seemed to be to cut off limbs for practice. This wholesale slaughter was stopped, I am told, by an order of the Government that no limbs should be amputated except by authority of designated surgeons in the various corps. However true that may have been, it is certain that many a private soldier was deprived of a limb that might have been saved. A liberal use of profanity, borrowed from the army officers, who taught men in the ranks how to swear and how to forget the pious teachings of Sunday-schools, probably had much to do with my being able after fifty years to tell the story.
Profanity did get me off that field by convincing those in charge that I could live if given a chance. I have tried to tell the story without embellishment and as briefly as possible. Our comrade George A. Tainter, of Co. A, loaned me the diary of his experience in the same hospital, and I was surprised to learn that another ward of the same hospital was as badly conducted as the one in which I was placed.
C. E. DAVIS, JR.
Secretary. (13th Regiment Association).
FROM MANASSAS TO BOSTON.
By Charles E. Davis, Jr.
Fifty years have passed since the battle of Manassas, which occurred on Saturday, the 30th of August, 1862. During the morning of that day our regiment was moved from point to point, halting occasionally, to test the position of the enemy. It was a disagreeable and uncertain duty, aggravated by the firing of an unseen foe. Though a man was occasionally hit, there was nothing very serious.
Standing around in expectation of doing something, and not doing it, was annoying and trying to the patience of the men. Finally we were ordered to pile our knapsacks beside the road and to march to the shelter of a knoll near by, where we drew three days' rations - eighteen hardtack, nine spoonfuls of coffee and nine of sugar. I think this was all we received and it was a welcome addition to our empty, haversacks. It was impossible to give each man eighteen whole hardtack, as many of the boxes had been broken, and so, in some cases, a guess was made as to the quantity. There was much quarrelling among the men who received the broken pieces. A looker-on would have imagined by the excitement that it was gold that was being distributed instead of rations. These were to last us three days, - two crackers at each meal, - but as this had been the usual rations, with a slice of raw pork added, for about thirty days, the quantity did not seem scant, though the prudent men proceeded at once to divide their rations into nine parts, to prevent an unreasoning appetite from overreaching. Some of the men who fought for what belonged to them and some who fought for more than belonged to them were soon beyond the need of rations. It took but a few minutes to complete the business, and during the process the shells were bursting about us, but with little effect on the men with appetites craving food.
Immediately afterwards the regiment was marched to the top of an adjoining knoll, where we were halted and remained in line facing the enemy. There was a lull in the firing and men were allowed to take canteens and go to a brook and fill them with water. Our position gave us a very good view of the battlefield, and while we were discussing the probabilities of what might or might not occur, the artillery of the enemy - more than two hundred guns, it was said - burst forth, followed by the sharp crack of musketry. The noise was deafening and brought a sickening sort of sensation that was uncomfortable, and which could only be allayed by doing something to occupy the mind. Suddenly General McDowell appeared and asked what regiment we were, and gave orders that we were to proceed at once and join the line of battle, which we immediately did. As we ran down the slope the wounded of King's zouaves were being brought to the rear on stretchers, - a bloody and disagreeable sight.
We were soon in line doing our part of the work. It was afternoon, between two and three o'clock. It had been cloudy and disagreeable all day, with a depressing atmosphere. Three times we charged the enemy, to be driven back with great loss. Once we were ordered to kneel to resist a charge, but that was soon abandoned and we went on with the firing. While we were kneeling I was struck with a piece of shell that first hit the ground, covering me with gravel, and knocking me heels over head - a very fortunate circumstance for me, as it removed all thoughts of fear, though I was painfully aware that something bad happened to my ribs and made it very painful to use my right arm.
I was shortly afterwards hit in the right leg, then in the left leg, and then in the left arm and shoulder. This last was a more serious matter and made it impossible to continue to be of service. The ball entered the shoulder above the upper part of the left lung, grazing the jugular artery, passing through the shoulder joint and out on the rear part of the left arm near the elbow, smashing everything in its way, including the artery in the arm. I lost command of the arm and it dangled about like a pendulum, with the blood in a stream pulsating through my blouse.
As we were marching to the station on our way from Boston to the front, a friend said to me, "Don't get shot in the back," which caused me more worriment as I was leaving the field than my wounds. It seemed to be raining bullets all about us, and with bursting shells it was quite like pandemonium, and this remark came to me with full force, so to escape that happening I felt compelled to back off the field, which I did for about twenty paces, when I gave the matter up as useless and turned the other way.
Accompanying me to the rear was a comrade who appeared anxious to assist me and who succeeded so well that I was sorely tempted to kill him, in spite of my helpless condition. I urged him to return, telling him that he could be of no use to me, that he was needed, that he might be taken prisoner; but to this he replied that he would rather serve a thousand years in prison than go back into the fight. A short distance in the rear, we were met by a soldier on horseback, with a large roll of bandage whose duty it was to tie up the wounds of men and stop the bleeding until they could be operated upon. He halted me with "You G--- d--- fool, what are you trying to do; you want to bleed to death?" He was off his horse in a jiffy, and with skill and tenderness tied up my wounds, and was away almost before I could realize what had taken place. He was particularly incensed at my comrade, but I urged that he was assisting me, and he allowed him to stay. He then left me, to perform a similar service for others.
I urged my comrade to leave if he didn't want to fight, but not to be taken prisoner; but he "wouldn't desert," he said. All he wanted was to stay and be taken prisoner.
By this time we reached a small stream, a few feet away, where I was able to partially satisfy the awful thirst that had taken possession of me. I waded through the brook and the bushes into an open field on rising ground, where I had to stop. It was simply impossible for me to go another step, though my comrade urged me to continue as we were still within the range of shot and shell that were tearing up the ground about us. If only one could have killed him I would have been happy; but as luck would have it he escaped and was later taken south as a prisoner of war, and for aught I know is there now, as he was never heard of after.
A curious coincidence happened about twenty years after the war respecting this same man. Among a lot of odds and ends of leather that reached a shoe-factory in Cordaville, Mass., was a cartridge box. The proprietor, on seeing that it belonged to the Thirteenth Massachusetts Infantry, sent it to John S. Fay, postmaster of Marlboro, who was a member of the Thirteenth, thinking he might like to preserve it as a relic of his old regiment. On looking it over he discovered that it belonged to a member of my company and sent it to me. I discovered on examination the name of my old comrade who was so troublesome and who succeeded in his desire to be taken prisoner.
But to return to my narrative. At the place where I dropped I stayed for a week. Shortly after I was wounded the union army was driven to the rear, and soon the rebel army rushed by like a whirlwind, yelling with all their might. The certainty of being killed by the rush of troops was uppermost in my mind, and it is difficult to understand how I escaped being trampled to death.
After the armies had passed on, the firing ceased, and the contrast made it seem a solemn stillness. It was as though we had awakened from a terrible nightmare. Very soon, thunder could be heard in the distance, and the noise increased until it became terrific, and finally the rain came down like a deluge. The lightning was terribly vivid and each flash lighted up the field for quite a distance. This lasted until long after midnight, and as we had no protection we were simply soaked through and through.
The battle occurred on
Saturday, and it
continued to rain, off and on, all day Sunday and until early Monday
morning, when it cleared off and remained so until after we left the
field the following Saturday. The men gathered in groups,
prompted to do so partly by the hope of finding some fellow with a full
haversack, and partly by the natural instinct of
was obliged to divide my rations with the others, so by husbanding that
which we had they lasted until Monday morning. From that time
until Friday night we had nothing to eat. There is a
qualification to be made in this statement, though a not very important
one. On Thursday an old man was seen on the field with a bag
shoulders, apparently engaged in rifling the dead of such things as
might have some value. Some of the remarks made at the sight
this old man prowling about the field were uncomplimentary.
last he reached us and we discovered that no such thing as plunder
actuated the old man. His bag had been filled with apples and
biscuits, and he distributed them, giving to each man according to his
choice an apple or biscuit, that they might go as far as
possible. "God bless you, old man!" was the response to his
kindness. When Monday morning came, rebel stragglers appeared
the way to join their army.
It should be borne in
mind that as
the field was in possession of the enemy we were all prisoners, and any
approach to it by the union army must be under a flag of
Some of the men who were not wounded, but who remained to be taken
prisoners, were allowed to stay on the field, and fetch water to those
who were wounded. The days were warm, but on the approach of
night the temperature would rapidly fall, so that we spent the nights
shivering with the cold. I am sure I did not sleep any night
during the week, though I must have slept during the day
teeth chattered so during these long nights that I was distressed with
the fear that my tongue would be bitten off if it happened to get
between my teeth. In order to pass the time away I would try
count the stars, but it was so difficult to tell just where I started
that I tried separating them into groups. We tried telling
stories, and telling of our experiences, but we were too young to make
much of that idea. We tried singing, but the pain of wounds
the cold night air compelled us to give it up. All efforts
generally ended in one man - an Irishman - cursing God, his father and
mother, the government, and lastly us. He was not so badly
he could easily have escaped, but for some reason he preferred to stay
and add to the misery of those who could not get away. Two of
group had been to Richmond as prisoners, and dreaded to be taken
again. A man on one side of me belonged to the Fifth Virginia
Union Cavalry, and was so badly and so peculiarly wounded as not to
wish to live. Another of the group had had his leg shot
completely off. It had been tied up to stop the
there he lay the whole week without uttering a word of complaint,
occasionally pouring water upon his leg to cool the
As I looked at him I felt little like complaining of my own
Each day we were searched by the stragglers, who were bent on plunder, but after the first day there was little to obtain; that only exasperated them, and we were sometimes threatened with our lives if we didn't supply them with something. There were men who came along that were of a different type, gentlemen by instinct, who would have done anything to add to our comfort, but their haversacks were as empty as ours. There were no ill words from such men. We often wondered why we were not taken to Richmond or to some hospital where we might be treated, and did not anticipate being taken to Washington until the middle of the week, when somebody, I think it was the old man with the apples, told us we were to be taken to Alexandria. This brought the hope that we might possibly escape a rebel prison.
Among the permanent visitors on the field were the turkey buzzards, the scavengers of the south. They are patient birds, apparently asleep most of the time, yet if one concludes you are about his idea of meat, he will calmly stare you out of countenance. Near me was the body of a man who died the first day, and as his remains grew riper, the turkey buzzard longed to begin his meal. As I was in line with the dead body, it always appeared as though he was watching for me to die, and every time I looked toward him I found his eyes wide open, and often he would lift his head and stretch his neck, which was free from feathers, as though he thought I'd better die or move on. The stench of the field was something fearful and afforded a carnival of feasting to Mr. Buzzard.
On Friday afternoon, a rebel officer and staff came on to the field to parole us, and this was the first reliable information we received of where we were to be taken. We all separately made oath that we would not take arms against the Southern Confederacy until legally notified of our exchange. The Virginia man expected severe treatment because he was looked upon as a traitor to his State. However, the officer contented himself with saying that he wished they had killed him, and the Virginian said he wished they had.
As our troops were being driven north by the rebs, they were not disposed to use their wagon trains to cart wounded prisoners to Richmond, and so allowed Uncle Sam to take us away, - a fortunate thing for us. Friday afternoon, about five o'clock, four or five physicians in civilian's clothes came to where we were lying to prepare us for a journey to Washington. This was great news. At last we were to leave this terrible field, to be taken to our own hospitals, where we would receive kindness and attention and where there was plenty to eat. Two of this group of physicians were skilled surgeons, and the others, God only knows what they were. The surgeons proceeded at once with their humane duty of changing bandages and making the men as comfortable as possible. So many were lying on the field wounded and in the hands of the enemy that the government called for volunteer surgeons to go, under flag of truce, and prepare the wounded for transportation to Washington, arrangements having been made with the Confederate government allowing it to be done. Responding to this call were many persons without professional experience who sought to gratify their curiosity to see a battlefield without expense to themselves. The occasion was so urgent that it was impossible for the government to make inquiries as to the capabilities of these volunteers. Hence it followed that men without professional knowledge or experience were allowed to visit the field and become a useless encumbrance to those surgeons whose services were offered in a spirit of patriotism and a humane desire to alleviate suffering and possibly save the lives of the wounded.
Surgeons in the service were obliged to stay with their regiments. Seeing one of the "others" standing about, I asked if he would attend to me. He made a rather perfunctory examination of my wounds, and then informed me that I was all right, that my wounds were very slight, etc., but declined to do anything but ask questions as to the position of southern troops during the battle. I gave him a good deal more fictitious information than ever was put into books. After a short time, one of the surgeons came to me.
"Haven't you been attended to?"
I replied that as there was not much the matter with me it was probably thought unnecessary to meddle with my bandages. He proceeded to untie me.
"Where is the man who says nothing is the matter with you?"
I pointed out the man to him, and he was called to see what had escaped his attention.
"How a bullet can go smashing through a man's body like that and he be alive is more than I know. Young man, you've had a d--n narrow escape."
He spent considerable time over me, but at last his work was completed, and I felt comforted. Each man was then given a hardtack and a piece of raw pork and a drink of whiskey, - it said whiskey on the bottle, but it was the worst I have ever tackled, and I thought my head would burst. In addition, I asked for some morphine to put me to sleep, but it had no effect but to make me more wakeful than ever, and again I tried to count the stars, but the knowledge that we were to be taken to Washington on the morrow had an exhilarating effect, though the night seemed longer because of the anticipation of leaving.
For a while I was free from shivering, but as the effects of the alcohol died out, I was colder than ever. After we had received our ration of whiskey and our hardtack, the physicians sat round with a box, improvised as a table, on which was canned salmon, meats, and hot coffee. Hot coffee! Not one of the men but would have given all he possessed for a cup of that delightful beverage, but we didn't get it, - that is, no one but me. I crawled on my stomach to the table and reached for a dipper before any one realized what I was about. I was promptly remonstrated with by one of the so-called physicians, but as I told him to go somewhere he is probably there by this time. My old surgeon, the one who dressed my wounds, laughed at him. Perhaps it was better, after our long fast, not to eat too much, but the lack of coffee was what broke our hearts.
On the following morning a train of ambulances, wagons and other conveyances appeared on the field, and the men were placed therein as fast as possible. All of the men with whom I had been for a week had been taken care of, and I was wondering why I was to be left, and I called upon my coffee friend to get me aboard the train. He said there was no room. I must be patient and I would be taken in the next train; whereupon I burst into a fit of uncontrollable profanity at the prospect of being left on the field. I was further told that only those could be taken who were likely to live until they could reach Washington, to which I replied in language that made every one stop proceedings and listen. During this outburst my old surgeon appeared to inquire what was the matter, and when I told him he turned to his associates and said, "With the energy and profanity he has exhibited he will bury every man on the field, including the doctors. We must make a place for him;" but the statement was made that there was no room.
"Put him on the seat with me," said one of the drivers.
"Can you ride on a seat, young fellow?" said the surgeon, and on my assurance they lifted me to the seat. But the old surgeon was not satisfied and he looked among the vehicles to see if some exchange could not be made; but his attempt was useless, and as the driver had taken kindly to me I told the surgeon not to worry, and shortly afterwards we started on a long, tedious ride of more than forty miles to Washington, threading our way among the dead bodies partially devoured by buzzards, over rocks and other inequalities of the road, until we reached Centerville, where we stopped on account of some formalities that were necessary before passing through the rebel lines. In the morning we had received another slice of pork and a couple of hardtack, so that by sundown hunger was again gnawing my vitals, but no more grub was distributed.
While we were waiting a union regiment, unarmed, a thousand strong, and just arrived from home, marched by on their way to bury the dead that had been lying on that field in the hot sun for a week. I didn't envy them the job. After satisfying the demands of the commanding officer we were allowed to proceed, and the train continued on the road to Fairfax Court House, which place we reached about 9 P.M. Notwithstanding the driver's kindness in supplying a blanket I was shaking with the cold. As the train reached the Court House our ears were saluted by loud voices calling for men from various States in order to supply them with something to drink - claret punch, whiskey or rum punch, or possibly lemonade. I was several times asked what State I came from, and anticipating that Massachusetts must have an agent on hand I told the truth; but the driver said I was a d--n fool. Get your drink first and then think about your State afterwards. As Massachusetts had no one on hand to administer refreshment to its wounded men, I was obliged to go without and was unable to quench my thirst until I arrived at the hospital. In the meantime I reflected on the soundness of the driver's remark.
Our halt at this place was very short and as we proceeded we encountered thousands of troops moving along the road. As we approached them the men shouted to those ahead to make way for the wounded, and as we passed along we were greeted with cheers. Finally we reached Washington, where no arrangements had been perfected for the distribution to hospitals, and we had a long wait, shivering in the cold, until it could be ascertained to what hospitals we were to be sent. In front of the White House we waited for an hour and a half, wondering why so unreasonable a delay was necessary, listening to the curses of the men suffering from the long ride, hungry and thirsty, cold and impatient. At last we reached the Carver hospital, where I was dumped into bed at three o'clock in the morning, nearly dead with pain, hunger and thirst. In spite of my distress I was soon asleep, and knew nothing more of my troubles until awakened by the nurse who was yanking my leg and asking why in hell I got into bed with my clothes on.
I was a sorry looking object, clothes saturated with blood, and soiled with mud from active campaigning and lying on the field for seven days. I demanded something to eat, and received more profanity; but upon the remonstrance of those about me I was told to go to the dining ward near by. Breakfast was over, but the cooks gave me some bread and coffee, and seeing a plate of steak on a shelf, - the breakfast of one of the cooks, - I took it and was making way with it as rapidly as possible when I received a cuff on the head for stealing another man's breakfast. A lot of profanity ensued, and I was shoved out of the ward to find my way back to my bed. I had gone but a few steps when I slumped to the ground and knew nothing more until upon returning to consciousness I saw myself in bed with a crowd of soldiers about me and an officer in uniform demanding to know who sent that man out.
He proved to be the surgeon in charge of the ward, and upon being informed that it was the nurse he lectured him in vigorous language upon what he was good enough to say was a d---d outrage. He began at once to remove the bandages and make me as comfortable as possible, and very soon began the work of probing my arm and shoulder for pieces of broken bone, flannel and pieces of rubber blanket, explaining in gentle terms how sorry he was to do it, but it was a matter of great consequence, etc. He was kind and gentle, and worked as long as he thought I could bear it, helping me out with an occasional drink of brandy. This was the only time my wounds were examined by a surgeon while in the hospital. That night he was sent away to Baltimore to take charge of a hospital there, and I felt as though I had lost a friend; the next morning when the new surgeon took his place I knew I had.
The surgeon who first examined my wounds made them construct a frame over the bed and cover it with gauze, to keep the flies out. The second one, with no particular purpose in view, lifted a corner of the gauze and let in upon me no end of flies, whereupon I called him some kind of a fool and he remonstrated at my use of profanity and gave me a lecture, saying he would see me again on this subject, but took no pains to adjust the gauze or rid me of the flies. He made no examination of my wounds, nor showed any interest in me until the following morning when he came to announce that I must have my arm taken off in order to save my life. I told him I would see him damned first before I would submit to such an operation.
"Very well," said he, "if you won't allow us to do anything to save your life, you had better prepare to die."
It seems that this man had "experienced" religion and was baptized about six weeks before, the only effect of which was the removal of any solicitude he may have felt, as a physician, in the saving of life. Perhaps the baptismal water was stale.
I had felt something moving under my shoulders and made complaint, but he said it was nonsense and suggested to the nurse that my mind was giving way. This made me excited and that seemed to confirm his opinion. I quieted down and then he was sure I was insane. In the meantime I could plainly feel the movement under my shoulders. It is a fearful thing to be thought insane, and each remark you make considered confirmation. It was a terrible moment to me. At last I shouted, "For God's sake, will no one lift me up and see." The man on the next bed called another, and they lifted me into a sitting position, pulled down a sheet and blanket, uncovering a nest of young rats, whereupon the doctor and nurse walked away, showing no interest in the result.
There was a good deal of indignation expressed in that ward against the doctor and nurse. The nurse had enlisted in the Ninety-second New York regiment and upon reaching Washington took out his false teeth and asked for a discharge, but the Government assigned him for duty as a nurse in this hospital. During the Civil War it was necessary to have good teeth in order to tear the cartridge before placing the powder and ball in the gun. Cartridges were covered with manila paper.
My rations at this time were toast and tea, at which I rebelled with such profanity as I had left from the supply I had partially rid myself of before. At last the doctor came and sat down beside me and made inquiries about my bringing up, etc., with particular inquiries about my Sunday-school teaching, and then began to read the Bible. By neglect and with the assistance of flies my wounds were soon in a filthy, stinking condition, the bandages not being changed for a fortnight. Exasperated beyond patience I told him to go to hell with the Bible but bring some one to change my bandages. He was shocked at my remarks, insisting if I would have my arm amputated he would see that I received proper attention, but my obstinacy interfered. Then followed some more profanity, and he left.
A few days after this he was showing General Spinner through the ward when I was pointed out as a striking illustration of the demoralization of the army. That I, who had been brought up under the influence of a Sunday-school, now about to die, told him to go to hell with the Bible when he was trying to prepare my soul for another world. General Spinner looked at me and then at the doctor, to whom he said,
"Well, doctor! if you couldn't do any good in hell with it I don't know where in hell you would go with it. That man wants some brandy and water. He needs a stimulant, etc."
The next day a pint bottle of lager was brought to me and on the label it stated that I was to take a "tablespoonful three times a day." The doctor was surprised next day to learn that I drank it all at once, and thereafter gave me no more. Before a fortnight had passed I was covered with what seemed a million of worms, which I scooped out from my body with my hand and threw onto the floor where they looked like animated rice. On one occasion I threw some in the face of the nurse, and then a scene occurred wholly unexpected. The nurse got mad and swore, and the man on the next bed felled him to the floor with a chair, breaking it into many pieces. Truly I was scared. I thought the nurse was killed. The men crowded about and seized the assailant and put him back into bed, with no little trouble. The nurse soon recovered and he was carried to bed with the first wounds he had received in the service, though many attempts had been made to hit him with tumblers and other small-ware as he passed down the ward. I was remonstrated with and threatened with punishment at my conduct, as all disturbances in the ward were promptly placed to my credit.
The next day there came into the ward, like a ray of sunshine, a little woman with a smiling face and a kindly manner, making inquiries if anything was needed to make her soldiers comfortable. She was immediately shown to the bed where I was lying.
"Why, what is the meaning of this?" she said.
While the boys were telling her the facts the nurse edged his way to the bed and asserted that I was obstinate and wouldn't allow anything to be done, and that I had shocked the surgeon by my blasphemy and had told him to go to hell with the Bible, "Supposing he did, is that any reason why he should be left in that condition? Bring me some bandages and in my basket you will find a clean shirt." In a very short time she had me washed and in a clean shirt, bandages changed, and clean sheets supplied to the bed. "Now, my dear boy, I am going to leave you, but I will be back tomorrow, so keep up your courage and all will be well."
On the following day letters containing money were received from home, and a letter from Hon. Alexander H. Rice to Secretary Stanton, asking that my case might receive his personal attention. On reaching the hospital I took particular care to write home that I was only slightly wounded. Things began to move my way. The "Little Woman" again made her appearance, bandages were again changed and hope revived. The hospital authorities were shamed into doing something for me and thereafter bandages were removed daily.
Two gentlemen, Hon. Henry S. Washburn of Boston and Mr. Aldrich, an ex-Mayor of Worcester, were sent out from Boston, and were requested by Chas. O. Rogers, proprietor of the "Boston Journal," to find my whereabouts and to do anything that money or influence could bring to bear for my comfort, and from that time on I had plenty to eat. Though I received no surgical attention I was quite satisfied with the change that had taken place. The "Little Woman" came each day and noted with pleasure the improvement that was taking place. There came also two other women, attended by a servant, who carried a basket, from which they dispensed such articles as would add to the comfort and pleasure among the hospitals. To me she left a small bottle of rye whiskey that she insisted would do me good. One of these women was a "secesh," and had a son in Stonewall Jackson's army and, by reason of my likeness to her boy, she came very often and frequently stayed two or three hours, passing the time in reading or talking with me.
So little by little I gained strength, though it was very slow progress. Pretty soon I received a box from home, loaded with things I might need, and with it came a man from my father to find out the facts about me. About the middle of November a stove (the first stove) was placed in the ward. As the roof was raised six inches for ventilation, when it snowed the beds would be nearly covered. There were large open spaces cut in the walls between some of the beds to assist in keeping the air of the ward pure. There was no complaint to be made on this account from those who were lying in bed. The hospital was composed of many wards so arranged as to form a quadrangle. Each ward contained twenty-four beds, and was in charge of a soldier detailed as nurse and a civilian who acted as his assistant.
There was one soldier in the hospital for whom I conceived a considerable fondness. He was an Irishman, a private in one of the New York regiments, who was in the hospital awaiting discharge by reason of old age, which was fifty-seven years. I thought he was about toppling into his grave, but Mike resented any such dismal view of his condition, frequently boasting of his ability to lug more bricks to the top of a building in a day than any man in the army, and his appearance justified the assertion. He was the embodiment of good-nature, possessed of a droll humor, with a voice and brogue that were delightful. He took a keen interest in my efforts to save my arm and spent a good part of each night at my bedside -
“Begorra," says Mike, "it's tru me dead body they'll be marching whin they chop off your arrum. Bechune the rats and the doctors its damn little chance a felly has in kaping out of purgathory."
It was little sleep any one got within hearing while he was telling his stories. The nurse, who slept in the same ward with the men, would order him to bed under threat to make complaint at headquarters. Mike paid no attention to his threat except to ask the conundrum, "Phwat's the good of a soldier widout teeth?" This brought down a laugh at the expense of the nurse.
In the box received from home was some tobacco scented with cascarilla bark. My father, who was not a user of tobacco, was told that in a hospital smoking would be disagreeable to other patients, and hence the combination. Shortly after the arrival of the box, the nurse came stealing down to my bed one night and, having satisfied himself that I was asleep (though I was not), reached in and took what things he thought he would like, and among them was some of the tobacco. I told Mike of what occurred and he was for extreme measures, but I begged him to say nothing and he would have some fun. The other men in the ward were soon made acquainted with the pilfering disposition of the nurse, and so when the nurse walked down the ward, smoking the highly scented tobacco, further proof was unnecessary, and the question was continually asked where he got the tobacco. One evening I asked Mike if he could get some whiskey for the boys.
"Sure, ye can always get whiskey if ye have money."
On the following night the whiskey was produced and conversation flowed accordingly. The quality of the whiskey was severely criticised by those with tender throats, whereupon Mike was told to get some that cost more.
"Sure," says Mike, "phwat for would ye be paying for wather? Didn't ye's know that ivery drop of wather that ye's put into whiskey ye'd be after sp'iling it?"
After this Mike procured two kinds: one for himself and one for the "boys with tinder throats."
The nurse was incensed at this nightly gathering of story tellers and made all the row he dared, but Mike volunteered the statement that we were "kaping away thaves." The suspicion took possession of his mind that we suspected the truth, and so the nightly meetings were continued and a quart of whiskey was used each night to lubricate the talking machinery.
Toward the last of November one of the Ninth Massachusetts, who had lost an arm and who occupied a bed opposite me, remarked that it seemed strange he could not get a furlough, though he had applied for it three months before. Now it occurred to me that if it look so long a time I had better make application at once. Accordingly I did so, and on the day following my application, I was ordered before an examining board for that purpose. I was scarcely able to walk and in no condition to receive one at once and explained that I was physically unable to accept it and that I had no money and must wait until I could get money from home. I did have just five dollars, but that I didn't count. The presiding officer inquired, "Why did you ask for a furlough if you didn't want one?"
I further explained my anticipation that I supposed there would be some delay before it was granted.
"Give him thirty days and an order on the paymaster for two months pay, $26, and see that he leaves the hospital before night. No more words or you will be placed under arrest."
This was an unexpected blow and I returned to the ward in an uncomfortable frame of mind. I found the nurse in a very happy mood. It will be readily understood what a thorn I must have been to the doctor and nurse. With a letter to Mr. Stanton in my possession, with money, and as soon as my whereabouts were known, plenty of friends, - the two ladies of aristocratic bearing (supposed to be some relations of mine) calling three or four times a week, one of them sitting by me, reading, - made the authorities of the ward hesitate before mailing complaint; although they knew I was responsible for the disturbance in the ward it was impossible to prove it, so when I applied for a furlough they promptly took advantage of my application and lost no time in ridding the hospital of such a disturbing element as I was. I freely admit they had some cause to complain of my behavior, but the ill-treatment and neglect with which I was treated was so aggravating as to embitter me against both doctor and nurse.
I instructed Mike to procure five dollars' worth of his kind of whiskey. He was much distressed at the way I was fired out of the hospital. When he returned he brought with him several friends who were thirsty and who were made belligerent by one or two glasses of this fighting whiskey. Very soon the effect was noticed. The fight was on, but I was obliged to leave, as the last coach would soon pass the hospital. I was taken out to the road amid the cheers and yelling of an excited crowd of half-drunken soldiers. Mike took me in his arms and placed me in the coach, saying, "It's the loikes of us'll be having no more good times," and the coach rolled away.
The day before I was wounded I weighed one hundred fifty-one pounds. On being weighed after reaching home, not-withstanding two months of good food, I couldn't get above ninety-nine pounds. I mention this because it will explain why everybody was so startled on seeing me. The coach stopped at the paymaster's office and I was helped to the sidewalk. The paymaster paid me $18, deducting from the pay my railroad fare to New York, $8.00, giving me an order for transportation which no one would accept, as it turned out, so I paid my way out of the money I received. I took a carriage to the station and on presenting my order for a ticket, was told I must show it at the office in Baltimore. I bought a ticket and was helped aboard the train and placed in a seat. My appearance excited a good deal of attention and many inquiries were made as to why I was allowed to leave the hospital. A gentleman who occupied the seat with me seemed very much interested in my welfare, and before we reached Baltimore was good enough to insist on my taking his berth aboard the train. I was in a very depressed state of mind and begged that he would let me stay where I was, but his desire was so great that I would allow him to make the sacrifice for a wounded soldier as he said, that I consented. In fact wherever I went I was met with kind and anxious inquiries and the wish to do something for me.
We arrived in Baltimore and I told my newly found friend that I was obliged to present my order for transportation and so left the train for that purpose. In those days trains going north or south were hauled across the city by horses. Never having been in Baltimore before, I made the mistake of not staying aboard the train until the other station was reached. I stepped to the window and presented my order for transportation, whereupon I was saluted with, "Get out of here, you d-d Yankee son-of-a-gun" or the son of something, and the window was slammed down.
In the mean-time the train had moved away and I found myself alone in a dark, unlighted train shed. My first thoughts were of the man on the car as I walked toward the street. He must think it strange I did not return. On reaching the street I accosted a boot-black or newsboy, - I forget which, - who looked at me and then fled. Soon a man came along and I asked him where there was a first-class hotel, and he pointed to some low buildings which my knowledge of city life warned me not to accept. I thanked him and after a few remarks he went on his way. The night was dark and foggy and exactly harmonized with my spirits, which were very low. I sat down beneath a street lamp and took careful note of each passerby until I thought I recognized one with sufficient kindness in his face to warrant repeating my inquiry. He told me that the Maltby House was on this same street, not far away, and I trudged along rather slowly and finally reached that hotel, where I went in and sat down. It seems the legislature had that day adjourned, or something had adjourned; but whatever it was, nearly everybody seemed to be on a drunk. Among the hilarious drunkards was an old man who emphasized his yelling by throwing tumblers about at the pictures and hangings of the office. After a while he was secured by his friends, but I was too scared to wait longer and so was assigned a room and was assisted to bed. As I could not take my clothes off I was obliged to get into bed with them on.
Suffering from pain of wounds unhealed, unable to walk even a few rods without sitting down to rest, I was much discouraged and, being unable to sleep, I reflected upon all that had happened within a few hours; but the thing that disturbed me most was the regret that I could not have seen the "Little Woman" once more to thank her for all her kindness, for it was her active energies at a critical moment that prolonged my life and made it possible to retain my arm. The other two women also came to my mind and I would have given much to have secured their names to treasure in my recollection. They would think it strange that I had so suddenly left without conveying to them the fact, for they were to see me the following day.
Soon I heard an uproar. Somebody was being lugged upstairs and I wondered what all the noise was about, and what they were going to do with the man. Suddenly they stopped in front of my door. Listening, I heard a man say, "This is the room," and my door was opened and the drunken man I had seen below, so crazy, was thrust into the room and he fell headlong on the floor. The door was immediately shut, and I found myself locked in a room with him, my key having been pushed out of the lock, and another used for opening the door. I was scared as I never was before. Very soon he got up from the floor, tore about the room, hollering "Murder!" "Fire!" etc., smashing everything he hit in his wild jumping about. At last he saw me. I felt sure my last hour had arrived, but I pretended to be asleep and as he bent over me to see who I was I could feel his hot breath, but dared not move. He left me and threw himself on the other bed, only to get up and holler as before. This he kept up at intervals until day-light, when I crawled out of bed, and, finding my key, unlocked the door and went downstairs in a rage such as I never was in before or since.
A woman was washing the office floor, and I let my wrath loose on her and, as she thought I was insane, yelled for help, that I was about to murder her. This brought a clerk, who threatened to call the police, I collected my scattered senses and sat down to reflect on what I could do. I had little money and no friends on whom to call for advice or assistance. I was nineteen years old, had had little experience in traveling about alone and, after my experience at the station, was afraid to speak to any one, realizing I was in a city where the sentiment was not altogether for the Union.
While in this melancholy mood I was approached by a gentleman who seemed surprised that I should be wandering about in the condition I seemed to be. After inquiries and upon learning my regiment he took a particular interest in me and with him I went to breakfast. He had visited some of the officers while the regiment was at Williamsport, Maryland, was a friend of Captain Matthews, whose Pennsylvania battery was camped within our lines while in that town. After breakfast he expressed a wish to give me a note to Dr. McClellan, - brother of General McClellan, - of Philadelphia, with a view to my stopping at his house until I could recover sufficiently to continue my journey home.
Dr. McClellan had requested him, in case he should run across an instance like mine, to send him to his house. My determination was to get home and I begged him not to feel that I did not appreciate his kindness. We had a good deal of talk, during which he offered me money, but that also I declined. On showing him my order for transportation to New York, we took a carriage and went to the quartermaster's office, but he had gone out of town for several days, and as nobody was about to give me what I wanted my order came to naught. I was told that it ought to have been presented at the railroad station in Washington, but there they told me to present it in Baltimore. I couldn't wait in Baltimore for the quartermaster, so we went to the station, and, to practice economy, I purchased for two dollars a "soldier's ticket" to Philadelphia, where I could purchase a similar ticket for New York. My friend saw me comfortably seated on the train and bade me good-bye. Everybody in the car seemed interested in my appearance and no end of kind things offered in my behalf, but I was in sore distress.
On reaching Philadelphia I got out, as in Baltimore, at the wrong station, and the train left me. I procured a carriage and followed the train, drawn by horses, across the city to the Camden and Amboy ferry, and had just strength enough to step aboard as it was leaving the wharf, at the risk of falling into the water. I was grabbed by those on board in season to prevent this mishap, but I was so weak that it was necessary to take me into a waiting-room, where they laid me on a couch. So many persons were attracted out of curiosity that I was nearly suffocated and would have fainted away but for the intelligence of one man, who drove the crowd out of the room, took out his flask and gave me a drink of brandy and brought me something to eat. He continued his kindness by putting me aboard the train. He left the train before it reached New York, but the passengers were all excited about me and wondered I was allowed out of a hospital, and made no end of inquiries of me about who I was, my regiment, what battle I was wounded in, etc., etc.
My arrival in New York was unattended by further difficulties, though a curious coincidence occurred worth mentioning and one that made the remainder of my journey easier than it otherwise would have been. I was accosted at the hotel by a man whom I had never seen before, who, like others, seemed impressed with astonishment at my appearance and that I was allowed to be roaming around outside of a hospital. On learning the name of my company and regiment he asked if I knew Bob Armstrong. To be asked about a comrade of my own company by a person whom I had never met before startled me. It seems they were classmates at the Bridge-water Academy. His interest in me and his desire to be of service were very much intensified by this knowledge. He left me the following afternoon aboard the steamer for Boston where I arrived without further mishap.
Note: Charles Davis lived well into old
age. He died in January 1915. He is pictured above,
with his wife and grandchildren in 1913. He wrote the regimental
history. His undying committment to the old 13th Mass. regiment
is responsible for the creation of the 13th Regiment Circulars and the
wealth of material they contain.
Action at Thoroughfare Gap, Aug. 28, 1862:
Daniel R. Jackson; age 18, Roxbury, Co. E
George Clarke; age 18, Co. E
Of this engagement, Private John B. Noyes of Company B, wrote: “As we were right upon the mill a deadly fire from miscreants in the mill and wooded sides of the mountain opened upon us. Two men fell dead, one almost beside me, and several were wounded.”
George Hill wrote: “Col. Leonard said he wanted his skirmishers to go up first and find out how the enemy was situated. Gen. Ricketts insisted upon our going however and so we pushed on. There was a large mill which we had to pass and just as the right of our company was opposite to it the rebels opened fire upon us from it. Strange to say no one from our company was hit but two of Co E’s boys who had lagged behind and who were just in front of me were shot dead. We kept on however and sought shelter behind a stone wall about 50 yards from the Mill.”
Action at Bald Hill, Chinn Ridge, Aug. 30, 1862:
Paul E Fielder; age 24, born Anaberg, Germany, Corporal, Co. A,
Fielder could be the man mentioned in George Paine’s memoirs when he wrote: “ My left hand mate whirled, shot through the shoulder,. F. went down with a bullet through the face.” … “S. was swearing “like mad,” shot through the thigh. A man I did not recognize dropped just in front. I heard the bullets chug into his body; it seemed half a dozen struck him. I shall never forget the look on his face as he turned over and died.”
Henry A. Holden; age 19 Co.
Warren H. Freeman of Company A wrote in a letter dated March 11, 1864 : “It is very strange, as well as painful, to see how little is thought of death in the army; it is rarely alluded to. I remember one of our boys, - he was in the same mess with me; he used to speak about some statistics of other wars, how many pounds of lead and iron it took to kill a man, and how few were killed in proportion to the number engaged, and what a good chance there was to get off whole, - his name was Henry Holden, and he was the first man killed in my company at Bull Run.”
Sam Webster of Co. D wrote in his diary: “The left wing dashed forward a hundred yards or so before the right got the order. Then they went also. My gun proving not good, I stopped and got that of Harry Holden of Co. A, who was wounded, and lying on the field, and followed them up.”
William R. Porter; age 20, priv. Co. A, mustered out Dec. 9, ’61; commissioned 1st Lt. 11th Mass., KIA (according to the roster Porter, a former member of the 13th was serving with the 11th Mass. I don’t know why his death is listed here).
Loring Bigelow; age 22, Corporal, Co. B, died of wounds October
John B. Noyes of Co. B wrote: “Corp. Bigelow, Beaumont, Blanchard run over by a rebel regiment, but after remaining two hours in the field, walked into our lines. Very severe wound.”
Capt. Cary of Co. B wrote Bigelow was wounded on the ankle.
From Bigelow’s Funeral from The Dedham, Mass. Gazette; Nov. 1st: -The services at the church were conducted by the pastor, Rev. Mr. Wells, Asst. by Rev. N. D. Gaylord, the Chaplain of the 13th Regiment. The speaker referred to the integrity of the deceased, his affectionate disposition and his sense of duty to his country, which caused him to forsake the comforts of a good home and bright prospects for the trials, privations and fatigues of the soldier. Corporal Bigelow died at Fairfax Seminary Hospital, on the 18th inst., from the effects of wounds received in the battle of Bull Run, on the 30th of August last. His remains were interred in the old burial ground opposite the stone church. He was twenty-three years and ten months old.
Charles B. Mills; age 18, (17?) provision-dealer, priv. Co.
Mills & Albert Curtis were friends. When Mills was shot in the knees by an enemy volley, Curtis rushed to his aid. Curtis was shot in the temple while giving comfort to Mills. They died in each others arms.
Albert O. Curtis; age 19, Boston, clerk, priv. Co. B, KIA, shot
temple while giving aid to his fallen friend Charles B. Mills.
George H. Hill of Company B, wrote to his father following the battle: “Three of our company was killed 14 wounded and 10 we do not know what became of them. One of the killed Charley Mills was an only child his father keeps a provision store under Boylston Market. Another Albert O. Curtis was our bugler and a good boy he was, and the other was married, Williams, he was also a favorite of the company.”
Jacob H. Littlefield; age 19, born Boston, teamster, priv. Co. B, died of wounds Nov. 19th.
Henry S. Sanborn; age 22, b. Wakefield NH, shipper, private Co. B, KIA
Frederick A. Williams; age 24, born Suffolk, Ma. Clerk, private
Lyman H. Low of Company B, recalled in a 1911 letter: “Among the very first to fall was a comrade directly in front of me. I saw a piece of his scalp drop from the back of his head; he went down in a heap, and as his face came into view it showed that the fatal bullet had entered the center of his forehead. He was bathed in blood, which rose high from his wound, falling back over his face. I was never able to ascertain who it was, though I have always thought it might have been Fred Williams, who was killed in the battle, and stood beside me when the fighting began.”
Charles T. Linfield; age 21, born S. Weymouth, conductor, priv. Co. B; joined the regiment August 8th 1862, died of wounds Aug. 30th.
Warren A. Blanchard; age 23, priv. Co. C, KIA
Elias H. Bennet; age 20, priv. Co. C, KIA
Frederick A Dickenson; age 23, b. Deerfield, Mass. clerk, private Co. C, KIA
John E. Keith; age 19, b. Brooklyn, NY, draughtsman, private, Co. C, died Nov. 2nd, 1862 from wounds rec’d at Manassas, Aug. 30.
John Mitchell; age 22, born Edinburgh, Scotland, priv. Co. C. KIA
Charles E. Page; pianoforte; age 29; priv. Co. C; Charles
“His comrades latter reported his wound was in his neck and when last seen he was attempting to stop the bleeding with gun cotton, sitting on the ground with his back against a stone wall.”
William D. Dorey; age 21; born Boston, stevedore; mustered in as private, Co. D, August 9, 1862; wounded at Manassas, Aug. 30, 1862, and died of his wounds, Oct. 2 following, at Philadelphia.John E. Dowling; age 22, b. Boston, clerk, private Co. D, missing since Aug. 30, 1862; probably killed.
Sam Webster of Company D wrote in his diary, Aug. 31st : “We fear Morris and Jack Dowling have gone up, but can’t tell. The whole army is completely done up, scattered, and played out. (Note after. …Total loss of the regiment supposed to be 193 killed , wounded and missing.)
Albert Hazeltine; age 24 Co. D; died of wounds Nov. 15.
Edwin F. Morris; age 19, clerk, priv. Co. D, KIA.
(see Sam Webster’s comment for John Dowling above).
Chauncy L. Peck; age 33, priv. Co. D; a Mexican War
Sam Webster, Co. D wrote in his diary: “Find Peck and others to be killed, among them some of the late recruits.”
Ira Bowman; age 32, silversmith, priv. Co. D, died of wounds Oct. 6th.
Edwin N. Welch; age 25, Marlboro, Mass. carpenter, private Co. F, died of wounds rec’d Aug. 30th.
Hollis L. Johnson; age 23, b. Berlin, Mass. shoemaker, private Co. F, KIA
Washington I. Lothrop; age 23, b. Weymouth, shoemaker, private Co. F, KIA
William H. Baker; age 20, student, private Co. H, joined the regiment as a recruit Aug. 5th1862. Killed August 30th, 1862.
Charles H. Coggins; age 26, b. Natick, Ma. Shoemaker, priv. Co. H, KIA
George R. Markham; age 19, Boston, Shoemaker, priv. Co. H; joined the regiment Feb. 24, 1862; KIA
Alfred G. Howe; age 36, of Marlboro, Sergt. Co. I, KIA
George F. D. Paine of Company A recalled in an article he wrote on the battle: ”Our boys dropped like tenpins before an expert player. Ten feet to my left the tall sergeant of company F sank down in a heap, shot squarely through the head. I saw the brain ooze out.” Ssergeants Alfred G. Howe & Frank J. Wood, both of Company I died this day in battle. No sergeants of co. F were killed this day. Company I and Company F were both raised in Marlboro, Mass. and I think frequently confused. I’m guessing Paine is referring to the death of Sergeant Howe or Sgt. Wood.
Franklin J. Wood; age 21, b. Northboro, Sergeant., Company I, KIA. (see comment for Alfred G. Howe above).
Edward E. Bond; age 17, farmer, priv. Co. I, KIA
Isaac B. Crowell; age 20, b. Yarmouth, Mass. printer, private Co. I, KIA
Peter Flynn; age 26, b. Ireland, shoemaker, private Co. I, KIA.
William H. P. Christopher; age 19, born Brookfield, N.S. clerk, mustered in as private Company I, July 21, ’62; died Sept 18th, 1862 from wounds rec’d at Manassas.
Thomas Copeland; age 18, born Ireland, laborer, priv. Co. K,
in July 16, 1861. KIA
Austin Stearns of Company K wrote: “K had only two men killed, and their bodies were left on the field – Thomas Copeland and Hollis Fairbanks.”
Hollis H. Fairbanks; age 18, b. Shrewsbury, Ma, shoemaker,
His twin brother Henry A. Fairbanks was in the 13th Mass. and survived the war though wounded at Antietam 2 ½ weeks later. The twin’s father served for a year in the Union Army as did 3 additional brothers.
Leonard Serratt; age 25, b. Boston, porter, priv. Co. D.
1862. Buried in Wyoming Cemetery, Melrose, Mass.
Many years later Leonard’s younger brother joined the 13th Mass Regt. association to stay in touch with his brother’s comrades.
© Bradley M. Forbush, 2011
Page Updated January 25, 2011.