Home Page, Second Wisconsin
More news from Bull
We are indebted to Messrs. Welch & Lamb for
the following letters, written by Corporal Ed. R. Chipman, of the Randall Guards, giving a
detailed and interesting statement of army movements and incidents, from July 20th to
A mile South of Centerville,
July 20, '61.
I write you at present from the place indicated above which is five or six miles north of
Manassas Junction. The Blue Ridge Mountains are first in sight and every thing in nature
appears lovely. With a lay of country like this, it is impossible to make me feel homesick, without it, I might feel lonely among
a thousand. We left Arlington Heights last Tuesday, the 16th, and marched to Vienna, 13
miles south west. Our knapsacks were packed up and were to be, and before this time
probably, have been sent to Alexandria. We put three days rations in our haversacks,
filled our canteens, rolled up our two blankets slung them on our backs and started with
our brigade which is composed of the N.Y. 13th, 28th N.Y. militia, 69th N.Y., 2d Wisconsin
Regiment, Company B, 2d U.S. Cavalry and one division of Sherman's Battery. We reached
Vienna after dark, having loaded our guns a little previous.
After taking of a frugal repast of crackers, meat and water, we rolled ourselves up in our
blankets and laid down upon the ground with our cartridge box for a pillow. We were called
up at 3 - 4 A.M. the next morning. The dew was very heavy indeed, and nearly wet our
blanket, which we laid over us, through. Where we camped was only a few rods from where
the cars, which contained the Ohio regiment, were fired into. I visited the charred
remains of six of the cars, for if you remember, a part of the train took fire and burned.
We also found a secession store which had been deserted. It was full of goods. The boys
went there and traded quite extensively, purchasing "without money and without
price" boots, shoes, &c. most of the houses were tenantless and the boys made
their visits without obstruction. A little after six we again took up our line of march.
We found the way obstructed every few hundred rods with trees which the rebels had filled
across the road to obstruct our march for we came upon them sooner than they expected and
they made a very precipitate retreat from Vienna, only two hours before we arrived there.
The consequence was that our march was very slow and fatiguing much more so than it would
have been to march right off. Sometimes also we had to halt in the broiling sun until the
scouts could have time to come back and report.
It took us nearly all day to march about ten miles. At noon we reached Germantown; here
the rebels had thrown up breastworks of earth and deserted them. As we crossed the
breastworks three hearty cheers were given for the stars and stripes. Germantown is just
three miles west of Fairfax Court House. There we found an hospital with some secession
soldiers sick with the measles. Here, also, some of the boys accidentally illuminated a
house which made a very brilliant display and was a source of considerable amusement or to
use the more expressive
language of the boys "it was fun for us".
Although I wish
you to understand that I in no respect approve of such fun and if it were in my power
would punish the perpetrators of this and similar outrages. The boys were also suspected
of fowl (foul) play, for I saw them lugging off turkeys and chickens and "the
fattened ox" has figured somewhat conspicuously in camp, if I mistake not. Near this
town we took two secession birds. Three miles from here we encamped for the night. Before
we started I took the precaution to put nearly a half pound of green tea in my haversack
and some sugar. That night, viz, the 17th, I made our Captain, Lieutenants and three or
four of our boys, the happiest fellows ever you saw. So excited were they over it that
they did not stop talking about it until 10 o'clock. I also, previous to leaving
Arlington, made a sack of one of my towels, sewed it in the back of my coat and put my
portfolio into it, with some stationery for the especial benefit of my friends at home.
The boys, however, have shared it with me pretty well and I am now pretty poorly supplied.
But I must not enter too minutely into the details of my travels. The next morning we
resumed our march and proceeded about three of four miles further and halted for several
hours. Between two and three P.M. we heard brisk cannonading about three miles west of us
and started for the scene of action, an account of which you have probably seen in the
newspapers before this. The engagement was between the N.Y. 12th, the Mass. 1st, the
Michigan 4th and quite a force of secession troops who had very strongly entrenched
themselves in a hollow, surrounded with thick woods. So securely had the rebels concealed
them selves that our forces proceeded within fifteen feet of them before they discovered
The first intimation they had of the presence of the army was when they opened
a murderous fire into them.
As soon as we could learn what was up we started for the scene of action. Our officers
very indiscreetly put us through a considerable part of the way "double quick"
You may imagine the effect on me as I had only just recovered from a week's sickness. But
will is everything; I determined not to give our until my legs refused to obey my command.
I summoned all my strength and kept up - two or three of our company gave out. Us little
fellows, I have since learned, stood it quite as well as the large ones. We were none of
us fit do battle when we reached the scene of action; our officers themselves say it was a great mistake and that it shall
not be repeated. We were drawn up in line in the woods, and then permitted to rest until
further orders. The bullets flew around us in all directions - one rifled cannon ball struck a tree about ten feet from me, and scattered the branches in all
directions. Bullets flew around our cars like hornets. One cannon ball struck three of
company B's men killing one and wounding two others. It was a savage spectacle to see them
carrying off the dead and wounded. I felt no fear but in accordance with my previous
determination remained indifferent, without calculating chances or anything else. Pretty
soon the order came to retreat and we retraced our steps, took a different road and
encamped about a mile from where the engagement took place. The Secessionists acted like
fiends, and bayoneted our wounded men, who were incapable of offering any resistance. So
far as we can learn we made considerable slaughter among the enemy. The surgeons report 15
killed on our side but we place no reliance on their report. We cannot ascertain how many
were killed or wounded. I understand that Colonel Tyler proceeded contrary to orders and
that he was ordered not to advance so far but I place no reliance in the rumor the
Secessionists are surrounded in the woods and they are felling trees and making every
possible effort for a vigorous defense. They have a strong force concentrated here, and
when the battle is renewed, which will probably be in the course of a day or two, it will
be a bloody one.
We have now a force of 50,000 men concentrated in and about here. We have
two 64 pounders besides many smaller pieces. We have been ordered to cook two days
rations, and the cooks are engaged in preparing food for us. There is a great deal of
activity among the officers and every thing looks ominous. Since commencing this letter I
am informed that the battle of the 18th commenced in this way: The enemy's scouts attacked
some of the scouts of the Massachusetts first and then retreated: the Massachusetts scouts
followed them up and allowed themselves to be led into an ambush and then the advance
guard of the 4th Michigan came to their assistance. The rest of us poor devils couldn't
get a chance in. I learn by one of the Wisconsin papers that we had a battle at Fairfax
Court House - we all had quite a laugh over it. I have since writing the foregoing, ceased
writing long enough to go to Lieut. Meredith and get some information about our present
affairs; I have had quite a talk with him and ,he says that there were fifteen killed and
wounded on the 18th. In regard to Mr. Welch's inquiry about Capt. Byant, he says that he
did lead his company into the field. He says moreover that he don't know, and that it has
not been officially announced, in which division of the army we are and that he can't tell
whether Brigadier General Tyler or McDowell will head us. He says we have not surrounded
the Rebels, as I have just represented, but that we will attempt it to-night and that in
all probability we shall have a fight in our attempt. There are more that five hundred
rumors in the camp, whom to believe and whom not I can't tell, but I place a good deal of
reliance on what Meredith says. In fact, I presume you are kept as well informed and
better that we in regard to the movements of the army.
Yours truly, E. R. C.
P.S. It is woods nearly all around here and I have not much more idea of their
position than you. Last night the Rebels and our scouts managed to make considerable noise
with their muskets and kept us awake a good share of the night.
Two letters from the Second Regiment.
First Skirmish of Bull's Run
Letter of Lieut. Meredith
We are permitted to take the following from a letter received this morning by
Mrs. Meredith from her gallant husband. It was written after the first skirmish of Bull's
Run and just before the battle, in which he got wounded:
July 20th, 1861
We are somewhere in Virginia. Got a very warm reception at Bull's Run, and are
waiting for orders to start again. We drove them out of their batteries, but did not
advance any further. We lost on our side, as near as I can learn, about 25 or 30 besides a
number wounded. There was only one killed and three wounded in our regiment and they all
belonged to the La Crosse company. Our company escaped unhurt although the cannon balls
flew thick. The enemy have masked batteries all along the road as thick as can be from
here to Manassas. We have a large force to contend against and will have hot work clear to
Richmond. I was almost forgetting to tell you how many we killed of the rebels. We knocked
over about 100 or more, which was doing pretty well. My health is good enough except the
headache, with which I am much troubled but I can't complain. We have had no tents with us
since we started from our old camp and it has rained two nights during which we had to lay
out on the ground with only the sky for a covering. - But we are all in good spirits, not
ardent, for we can't get a drop. I saw a Captain offer our Doctor $10 for a drink of
brandy but he could not get it. Our Wisconsin boys are all keen for a chance at the Rebels
and I think they will soon get it. The hard fighting will all be done on the road from
here to Richmond. The enemy will contest every inch of ground all the way through. We are
in Sherman's brigade so if you hear anything about his brigade you will know we are with
him. It is awful hot down here, the sun scorching the very hide off but the boys stand it
very well. Nobody from Madison here. I suppose you will get exaggerated accounts of the
fight at Bull's Run but be patient, it is all right and we are ahead.
Tell Ben. Reed "Wild Bill" was where cannon balls were flying thick and the
plticky horse did not budge an inch. He looks first rate and this will interest Ben more
than anything else.
I must now close for it is a hard way to write sitting flat on the ground in a fence
corner, with the hot sun pouring down like fire.
Letter from Private Eskew
We are permitted to take the following from a letter received by Mr. H Chappel from
Private Eskew of the Randall Grards:
We left Camp Peck on Tuesday the 10th at 2 o'clock P.M. Altogether there were some
15,000 of us. We marched to a place called Vienna, 10 miles from where we started and
about 16 from Washington. We encamped in fields along the road for there was an awful
crowd of us.
We did not see any of the rebels and it was very hard marching. We had our blankets, cup,
canteens, guns and three days rations, which is a big load to march with. The last
consisted of dry crackers and a little meat. We started next day at 9 o'clock and found
all the houses vacated. Slaves were left in some of them. - The boys milked all the cows
and took all the chickens they wanted. We got within two or three miles of a place called
Germantown, where 3000 rebels were encamped. They had felled trees across the road to
prevent us coming on to them in a hurry, and we had to move very slow and cautious for
fear of masked batteries. There was a breast work before their camp some ten feet high
which we cut through. The artillery fired twice at them and they left leaving most
everything behind. I took a look through their camp and found sugar and coffee in sacks,
dishes &c. They tried to get away with a load of flour but their wagon broke down and
they took the horses and left in a hurry. As we entered the camp ground through the cut in
the breastwork each company gave three cheers for the stars and stripes at the same time
waving the flag from the top of the work. We took two of the rebels prisoners. Their
uniform is something like ours only the strip is yellow instead of black. We marched after
the retreating enemy but did not get up to them as they had two hours start. We encamped
in a field for the night and the next morning started on and marched three miles when we
stopped before another breastwork which the enemy had left the night before. Beauregard
had been there with 10,000 men. They left most everything behind. We continued our advance
three mile's when when we fell in with the rebels. They were in the woods and we could
hear every shot that was fired.
The Michigan battery and two or three hundred of cavalry went to assist the advance in
dislodging them, but could not as they fought irregularly and in Indian fashion. After the
advance had been fighting for sometime our brigade was marched forward to cover its
retreat. When we got within a half mile or so of it we met our troops retreating. The
cannon balls struck all around. One struck with ten feet of our company, bounded and
passed over our heads. There were three of the La Crosse Light Guard wounded and one died
the next day; the others will recover. It made me feel kind of funny to hear the balls
whistling around my ears. We have not made another attempt to dislodge them. Our troops
are still pouring in, and you may look for an awful fight within three days. We have a big
army here now, at least 40,000 men and more coming all the time. We suffered quite a heavy
loss in the fight on account of their mode of fighting and our advance got right on the
enemy before discovering them. We must have lost some 50 killed and a great many wounded.
I am writing on the head of Davis's drum and as I am out of writing material I will
conclude this account of our march and fight.
Report of Col. William T. Sherman, Thirteenth U.S.
commanding Third Brigade, First Division.
Fort Corcoran, July 25, 1861.
SIR: I have the honor to submit this my
report of the operations of my brigade during the action of the 21st instant. The brigade
is composed of the Thirteenth New York Volunteers, Colonel Quinby; Sixty-ninth New York,
Colonel Cameron; New York
Seventy-ninth, Second Wisconsin, Lieutenant-Colonel Peck, and Company E, Third
Artillery, under command of Capt. R.B. Ayres, Fifth Artillery.
We left our camp near Centreville, pursuant to
orders, at 2:30 a.m., taking place in your column next to the brigade of General Schenck,
and proceeded as far as the halt before the enemy's position near the stone bridge at Bull
Run. Here the brigade was deployed in line along the skirt of timber, and remained quietly
in position till after 10 a.m.
The enemy remained very quiet, but about that
time we saw a regiment leave its comer in our front and proceed in double-quick time on
the road toward Sudley Springs, by which we knew the columns of Colonels Hunter and
Heintzelaman were approaching. About the same time we observed in motion a large force of
the enemy below the stone bridge. I directed Captain Ayres to take position with his
battery near the two rifled guns belonging to this battery, and finding the smoothbore
guns did not reach the enemy's position we ceased firing, and I sent a request that you
should send to me the 30-pound rifled gun attached to Captain Carlisle's battery. At the
same time I shifted the New York Sixty-ninth to the extreme right of the brigade.
Thus we remained till we heard the musketry fire
across Bull Run, showing that the head of Colonel Hunter's column was engaged. This firing
was brisk, and showed that hunter was driving before him the enemy till about noon, when
it became certain the enemy had come to a stand, and that our forces on the other side of
Bull Run were all engaged-artillery and infantry. Here you sent me the order to cross over
with the whole brigade to the assistance of Colonel Hunter. Early in the when reconnoitering the ground, I had seen a horseman descend from a bluff in our front, cross
the stream, and show himself in the open field, and, inferring we could cross over at the
same point, I sent forward a company as skirmishers, and followed with the whole brigade,
the New York Sixty-ninth leading. We mound no difficulty in crossing over, and met no
opposition in ascending the steep bluff opposite with our infantry, but it was impassable
to the artillery, and I sent word back to Captain Ayres to follow if possible, otherwise
to use his discretion. Captain Ayres did not cross Bull Run, but remained with the
remainder of your division. His report, here with, [No.27], describes his operations
during the remainder of the day.
Advancing slowly and cautiously with the head of
the column, to five time for the regiments in succession to close up their ranks, we first
encountered a party of the enemy retreating along a cluster of pines. Lieutenant-Colonel
Heggery, of the Sixty-ninth, without orders, rode out and endeavored to intercept their
retreat. One of the enemy, in full view at short range, shot Haggery, and he fell dead
from his horse. The Sixty-ninth opened fire upon this party, which was returned; but
determined to effect our junction with Hunter's division, I ordered this fire to cease,
and we proceeded with caution toward the field, where we then plainly saw our forces
engaged. Displaying our colors conspicuously at head of our column, we succeeded in
attracting the attention of our friends, and soon formed the brigade in rear of Colonel
Here I learned that Colonel Hunter was disabled
by a severe wound, and General McDowell was on the field. I sought him out, and received
his orders to join in the pursuit of the enemy, who was falling back to the left of the
road by which the Army had approached from Sudley Springs. Placing Colonel Quiby's
regiment of rifles in front, in column by divisions. I directed the other regiments to
follow in line of battle, in the order of the Wisconsin Second, New York Seventy-ninth,
and New York Sixty-ninth.
Quinbly's regiment advanced steadily down the
hill and up the ridge, from which he opened fire upon the enemy, who had made another
stand on ground very favorable to him, and the regiment continued advancing as the enemy
gave way, till the head of the column reached the point near which Ricketts' battery was
so severely cut up. The other regiments descended the hill in line of battle under a
severe cannonade; and the ground affording comparative shelter against the enemy's
artillery, they changed direction by the right flank and followed the road before
mentioned. At the point where this road crossed the ridge to our left front, the ground
was swept by a most severe fire of artillery, rifles, and musketry, and we saw in
succession several regiments driven from it, among them the Zouaves and battalion of
Before reaching the crest of this hill the
roadway was worn deep enough to afford shelter, and I kept the several regiments in it as
long as possible; but when the Wisconsin Second was abreast of the enemy, by order of
Major Wadsworth, of General McDowell's staff, I ordered it to leave the roadway by the
left flank, and to attack the enemy. This regiment ascended to brow of the hill steadily,
received the severe fire of the enemy, returned it with spirit, and advanced delivering its
fire. This regiment is uniformed in gray cloth, almost identical with that of the great
bulk of the secession army, and when the regiment fell into confusion and retreated toward
the road there was an universal cry that they were being fired on by our men. The regiment
rallied again, passed the brow of the hill a second time, but was again repulsed in
By this time, the New York Seventy-ninth had
closed up, and in like manner it was ordered to cross the brow of the hill and drive the
enemy from cover. It was impossible to get a good view of this ground. In it there was one
battery of artillery, which poured an incessant fire upon our advancing columns and the
ground was very irregular, with small clusters of pines, affording shelter, of which the
enemy took good advantage. The fire of rifles and musketry was very severe. The
Seventy-ninth, headed by its colonel (Cameron), charged across the hill, and for a short
time the contest was severe. They rallied several times under fire, but finally broke and
gained the cover of the hill.
This left the field open to the New York
Sixty-ninth, Colonel Corcoran, who in his turn led his regiment over the crest, and had in
full open view the ground so severely contested. The firing was very severe, and the roar
of cannon, muskets, and rifles incessant .It was manifest that the enemy was here in great
force, far superior to us at that point. The Sixty-ninth held the ground for some time,
but finally fell back in disorder.
All this time Quinby's regiment occupied another
ridge to our left, overlooking the same field of action and similarly engaged.
Here, about 3.30 p.m. began the scene of
confusion and disorder that characterized the remainder of the day. Up to that time all
had kept their places, and seemed perfectly cool and used to the shells and shot that fell
comparatively harmless all around us; but the short exposure to an intense fire of small
arms at close range had killed many, wounded more, and had produced disorder in all the
battalions that had attempted to destroy it. Men fell away talking and in great confusion.
Colonel Cameron had been mortally wounded, carried to an ambulance , and reported dying.
Many other officers were reported dead or missing, and many of the wounded were making
their way, with more or less assistance, to the buildings used as hospitals.
On the ridge to the west we succeeded in
partially reforming the regiments, but it was manifest they would not stand, and I
directed Colonel Corcoran to move along the ridge to the rear, near the position where we
had first formed the brigade. General McDowell was there in person and, used all possible
efforts to reassure the men. By the active exertions of Colonel Corcoran we formed an
irregular square against the cavalry, which were then seen to issue from the position from
which we had been driven, and we began to retreat towards that ford of Bull Run by which
we had approached the field of battle. There was no positive order to retreat, although
for an hour it had been going on by the operation of the men themselves. The ranks were
thin and irregular, and we found a stream of people strung from the hospital across Bull
Run and far towards Centerville. After putting in motion the irregular square, I pushed
forward to find Captain Ayres' battery. Crossing Bull Run, I sought it at its last
position before the brigade crossed over, but it was not there; then, passing through the
woods where in the morning we had first formed line, we approached the blacksmith shop,
but there found a detachment of the secession cavalry, and thence made a circuit, avoiding
Cub Run Bridge, into Centerville, where I found General McDowell. From him I understood it
was his purpose to rally the forces, and make a stand at Centerville. But, about 9 o'clock
at night, I received, from General Tyler in person the order to continue the retreat to
the Potomac. This retreat was by night, and disorderly to the extreme. The men of
different regiments mingled together, and some reached the river at Arlington, some at
Long Bridge. and the greater part returned to their former camps at or near Fort Corcoran.
I reached this point at noon the next day, and found a miscellaneous crowd crossing over
the Aqueduct and ferries. Conceiving this to be demoralizing, I at once commanded the
guard to be increased, and all persons attempting to pass over to be stopped. This soon
produced its effect; men sought their proper companies and regiments, comparative order
was restored, and all were posted to the best advantage.
I herein enclose the official report of Captain
Kelly, the commanding officer of the Sixty-ninth New York; also full lists of the killed,
wounded and missing. Our loss was heavy, and occurred chiefly at the point near where
Ricketts' battery was destroyed. Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty was killed about noon, before
we effected a junction with Colonel Hunter's division. Colonel Cameron was mortally
wounded leading his regiment in the charge, and Colonel Corcoran has been missing since
the cavalry charge near the building used as a hospital.
Lieutenants Piper and McQuestern, of my personal
staff, were under fire all day, and carried orders to and fro with as much coolness as on
parade. Lieutenant Bagley, of the Sixty-ninth New York, a volunteer aide, asked leave to
serve with his company during the action, and is among those reported missing. I have
intelligence that he is a prisoner and slightly wounded. Colonel Coon, of Wisconsin, a
volunteer aide, also rendered good service during the day.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade
Early on the 21st, Sunday, the conflict began, on the result of which the nation
trembled and not without misgiving. After continuous losses of this engagement the Second
Wisconsin lost out of 900 in the fight, fifty killed, 105 wounded and 65 missing.
To join our future comrades we struck tents across the Potomac on Aqueduct bridge
and Maridian Hill near Washington City, marching five miles; here we remain until
September 3rd, when in the evening the long roll beats and we fall in and march rapidly
through Georgetown up the Potomac to Chain Bridge, seven miles. September 4, 1861, the
Second and Fifth Wisconsin and Nineteenth Indiana Regiments were temporarily detached from
Kings Brigade and assigned to Brig.-Gen. Wm. F. Smithers command, and
immediately crossing the river his division occupying a command in position, covering the
approaches of Chain Bridge, distance marched, three miles. The Second Wisconsin and the Nineteenth Indiana break camp, recross the Potomac, and
pitch tents near the bridge called Camp Lyon, Oct. 2d. The Seventh Wisconsin Regiment
joins Gen. Kings Brigade, which now consists of the Second, Sixth and Seventh
Wisconsin and Nineteenth Indiana Regiments. October 5th the brigade, being attached to
Gen. McDowells Division of the Army of the Potomac by orders of General McClellan,
break camp and via Georgetown, crosses the river again at Aqueduct bridge and goes into
camp at Fort Tillinghast or Arlington Heights, about a half mile west of Arlington House,
late residency of Gen. Robert E. Lee, commanding the Confederate army.
(special dispatch to N.Y. Tribune)
Monday, July 22, 1861
The Retreat - The events of the day. The retreat of the Federal troops yesterday was
one of those extraordinary events which can no more be explained that it can be justified
or palliated. The day was ours. The enemy had been driven step by step from every
position, the field was occupied by our troops. Our troops had united in the very heart of
the rebels' stronghold when the order to retire was issued. From victory to defeat was
only the work of an instant. At the moment of our greatest hope, all changed and the spirt
and the valor of the army were gone. I will briefly review the events of the day. Our
forces started upon their march at half past two in the morning, taking a road towards
Bull's Run, about half a mile by the right of that upon which the First Division advanced
on Thursday. When near the enemy a column shot off by the side of the road to the right
with the purpose of flanking the position and attacking in the rear. This column surprised
the divisions of Gen. Hunter and Col. Heintzhman. The division under Gen. Tyler advanced
direct, and by six o'clock reached the neighborhood of Bull's Run, beyond which the enemy
were drawn up for battle. The first demonstration from our side was made by Capt.
Carlisle's battery of artillery with a thirty-two pound Parrot rifled cannon, two shells
from which were fired with no response. At about the same time the Second Brigade under
Gen. Schenck was formed at the left and the Third, under Col. Sherman, at the right of the
road. Light skirmishing soon after began in which our men were wounded by discharges from
a masked battery which they encountered and before which they slowly retreated. Between 7
and 8 o'clock cannonading was heard from Col. Richardson's position, he having been
directed to open a diversion to conceal our real purpose.- For an hour after, the
howitzers of Capt. Carlisle kept the enemy active and it was not until near noon that other
batteries were drawn in and the infantry engagement was prepared for.
The 3d Brigade, including the 69th, 79th, and 13th New York and 2d Wisconsin Regiments
moved forward to the right and advanced regularly
up the hill slope beyond Bull's Run
upon which the enemy were stationed in force. The thick woods on either side obstructed
the view but presently volleys of musketry
were heard both to the right and left, and in
the distance, as if Hunter's Division were approaching and getting at work. Immediately
after, this belief was confirmed by the thick cloud of smoke which rose from afar and
presently the troops themselves were seen moving rapidly forward and driving the enemy
before them at a distance of about two miles. The 3d brigade was, by this time, menacing
one of the enemy's earthworks, and appeared to be hotly engaged. Col. Keyes' division, the
4th, was accordingly ordered down to re-enforce, and at once pushed forward in support.
The 2d brigade remained firm at the right but not yet actively engaged from Col.
Richardson's post a mile or two to the left around to Col. Hunter's two miles to the right
and fought the battle thus spread over five miles of space. Their artillery was finely
worked and was quick to discover the place whenever our men gathered; but up to this time the injury done by them was
slight. In an Infantry contest, they were perpetually beaten but when they retreated it
was to take a new and more strongly fortified position. - At times they ranged themselves
upon the open field or road but were invariably driven back by Hunter's or Sherman's men.
Their force was very large and I should judge that the bodies which kept pouring down from
were greatly superior to ours. They fought well and even in their retreats
showed considerable order, but their works were one by one taken from them until they held
only two or three on in the highest ground of their position and the others to the left of
Gen. Tyler's divison. The first of these was stormed by the Zouave Regiment, but either
not taken or was not held. The others were well employed by the rebels who threw incessant
shot and shell among our most exposed men. We still pushed forward until the whole of our
men excepting the Second Brigade of the First Division had crossed Bull's Run. The
engineers were about, constructing a bridge for the artillery, the regular stone bridge
having been mined and the two columns under Gen. Tyler and Hunter, the latter of which was
led by Gen. McDowell had actually completed their junction
when the order to retreat was
given. Why it was given, no person who saw the condition in which affairs stood could
attempt to comprehend. The only point positively held by the enemy was in the hollow to
our left and although an effort was undoubtedly made to overreach us at the left, an ample
force - an entire brigade - was ready to receive them and did receive and repulse them
afterward, in spite of the panic which reigned. But at the beginning of the retirement, a
few ambulances and baggage wagons were driven hurriedly away the noise of which spread
terror among the troops within hearing who instantly broke ranks and ran pell-mell
toward Centerville. This contagion caught the rest and in less than ten minutes our army was
flying in the utmost disorder. Everything was abandoned. The wounded were deserted in the
hospitals and the only thought was of individual safety. Guns were thrown aside and
blankets and knapsacks were lost and trampled upon. The artillery shared the panic: the
guns were cut loose and the gunners used the horses to escape the more swiftly. Those on
foot begged piteously
to be allowed to share the horses of those who rode. Many strove to
clamber into wagons and were pushed back by the bayonets of those who occupied them. The
ground was strewed with weapons, food and clothing of every kind. Many of the guns were
left to fall in to the hands of the enemy including the large 32 pounders which had done
so much service during the flight. All manliness seemed to have forsaken our terror
stricken men. The last stand upon the field was made by one of the Ohio regiments, under
Col. McCook, I believe, but three miles back, the reserve brigade of Gen. Blenker was
drawn up in line to cover the retreat and effect whatever service was needed. The stand of
Gen. Blenker saved us from great follies. The enemy came up in small force at 11o'clock at
night and charged upon the 8th New York regiment, capturing six of it's men. The charge
was repulsed and the enemy attacked with such vigor as to cause them to fly, leaving their
prisoners. The disorder of our men continued during the night. There was no army, only a
vast rabble. By midnight they were all scattered in the road to Fairfax Court House and
soon after Gen. Blenker with the 8th New York regiment took up his retreat in perfect
order - the only body that so retreated. I left Centerville at eight o'clock this morning.
The last fragments of our force had all been long gone; even the hospitals were nearly
deserted, all who could limp having started forth with crutches and canes. The rebel
scouts were passing through the town and apparently endeavoring to ascertain in which way
they could best cut off the stragglers. I do not know, however, that any serious attempt
to do this was made. The road from Fairfax was thick with the debris of the retreat.
baggage wagons were overturned and the horses lying dead and dying. Guns, ambulances,
stores of provisions were strewn
everywhere. At Fairfax Court House the inhabitants were
plundering our deserted baggage. Toward Arlington the evidences of the disgraceful retreat
continued. About four miles from the Long Bridge, Gen. Blenker was moving regularly
toward Washington, his force in through order. As he passed, he destroyed the importance
the important bridges to secure against sudden pursuit. The reports of losses are various.
I can not estimate our loss at less than 500 killed and wounded, but I believe that it
cannot much exceed that number. As regards individuals the most contradictory rumors reach
us and it would be criminal to spread them in this moment of uncertainty.
The Wounded of the Wisconsin Second
Below is a hurried letter from Mr. S. G. Benedict to his wife in this city giving a
list of the wounded in the Second Regiment. It will be seen that the Randall Guards, of
this city suffered severely - Nearly every every officer, from Capt. Randolph down, was
wounded. We were confident those boys would fight and the circumstance that so many of
them are wounded, some with bullets, some with shells and others with bayonets shows that
they were in the hottest of the fight and exposed to every kind of attack. We are all
anxious to hear more particularly of their condition.
July 28, 1861
I send you a list of the wounded so far as I could learn late last eventing from the
wounded in the Hospital at Georgetown. Randall Guard - Capt. Randolph wounded by shell in
the back. Lieut. A. A. Meredith, bullet through right arm below the elbow. He is in the
hospital. 1st Serg. G.M. Humphrey, right shoulder; 3d Serg. D.C. Holdridge, wounded and
taken prisoner; 4th Serg. S.M. Bond in left arm; 5th Serg. T.D. Bahn, left shoulder; Corp.
Peter Morrison, right shoulder; Privates J.M. Zook, breast; T.W. Caning, left hand; Thos.
Murphy, left arm; Frank Buton, in the face; Henry Storm back of ear. Portage Co. G. -
Chas. O. Dow, shot in back of ear, passing through the mouth and knocking out front tooth.
Oshkosh Co. E.-W.L. Rouse, below hip; R. Lester, bayonet wound
in head; W. Holland, wounded in face; N.H. Whittemore, left shoulder; S.D.Pitcher, Serg.
J. Thompson, wounded not known where. La Crosse Co. B.-C.C. Bushee, in leg by grape shot;
Lieut. Hatch, in knee; S. P. Jackson, in arm.
Letters from the Boys
We have been permitted to make the following extracts from letters written since the
bloody battle of the 21st. They contain news of deepest interest to our readers and convey
many particulars not found in any other published account:
July 23, 1861
You must have heard that our regiment was in battle near Manassas on Sunday last. Saturday
night we were encamped a mile beyond Centreville and were told in the evening to hold
ourselves in readiness to march at two o'clock the next morning; that we were to have an
engagement with the rebels. Two days rations were put in our haversacks and with this and
our canteens of water and cups, rubber and woolen blankets, gun cartridge box with 40
rounds in it, we commenced our march at about half past three o'clock in the morning. At
seven o'clock we came in sight of the enemy but as their batteries were masked we could
not ascertain their position and were drawn up in line of battle and our batteries
commenced firing to find the place where the rebels were entrenched. Our Brigade of four
regiments was then on the east of the enemy; about 10 o'clock we could see from our
position that one of our batteries had gained a position to the northwest of them and was
driving them back. During all this time their batteries had not fired a cannon but were in
such a position that we could not tell where they were. About half past eleven we were
marched around to the place where our battery was planted a distance of 2 miles. On the
way we threw off our blankets and run a good share of the distance at double quick time under
oppressive heat. At one time in this march I had such excessive pain in my side I could
scarce keep up with the company but I was determined not to give out.
When we reached the place where our batteries had driven the enemy back there were about
10,000 men drawn up in line.- Here the masked battery was opened upon us; it was situated
on a hill to the east of us and surrounded on the north east and south by woods. We were
on an elevation to the west of them and a small brook ran between the two hills. Three or
four of our Regiments were across the brook on the other side attacking the battery and
our Colonel ordered us forward to help them. As we were going down the west side of the
hill, a cannon ball went thro' the centre of our company taking off the arm of poor Humes
of Beloit, and a gun out of Henry Gintey's hands bruising his right hand so that he could
not use it. Amos Botsford and Seneca Flint fell out of the ranks and carried Humes back to
the house where the wounded lay. Gintey came on and told the captain that he could use his
left hand and would fight with us, but Capt. Strong told him he had better fall back. We
marched up the south side of the hill behind a rail fence, we were then about twenty rods
from the battery. Our Lieut. Colonel was on our right and gave the order to charge. We got
over the fence and were marching up to the battery when a regiment behind us that had
broken and scattered back of us commenced firing right through our ranks, and they were
hallooing all around us not to fire, that we were killing our own men and we had to lie
down to keep from getting shot from behind. After the order to charge was given, we had no
orders given us. I did not see one of the Field officers after we commenced firing, so we
had no one to give us orders; no one to rally us together, the enemy were just
in large numbers and no regiments coming up to help us.
We then fell back over the fence, still firing, and a heavy fire pouring in on us. Here
Charlie Filer was shot a little below the neck and while some of the company were carrying
him away he died. a moment after, Willie Upham was shot through his side near his elbow. I
saw the boys carrying him away. I cannot say whether he lived or not, at least he must be
in the hands of the enemy and there can be little hope for him.
James Anderson, another of our boys from Canada, was shot here. Our Regiment was now
scattered with nobody to command us and all falling back. I went back about ten rods and
stopped; seven or eight others were near me among them Walter Stone and Lincoln from Union
Grove. While we were falling back a ball passed through my coat sleeve and took the skin
off my arm. We staid here firing till I had fired 20 rounds; my gun had got so dirty that
for the last five or six rounds I had to take hold of the butt of the gun and strike the
against a tree to get the charge down.
The rebels had been firing all the time from the woods, and they now received a strong
reinforcement; while nearly all of our men had retreated. The rebels were coming out of
the woods to the southeast and from the battery to the north east of us. Lincoln and
Hinton from Waukesha, who had been sun struck and could hardly walk, were the only ones of
our regiment that were near me. Lincoln and I took Hinton's gun and helped him off the
field; we gave him some water and put some on his head and got him back to Fairfax, where
he laid down; I think he must be safe now.
We retreated with our division all broke up, different Regiments all mixed together. The
rebel cavalry charged on our rear killing the stragglers and, some say, stabbed our
wounded that could not stir. It must have been half past two when we came off the battle
field and we kept on the retreat till 11 o'clock Monday morning. Seneca Flint, John Wilson
and I of our company reached Arlington Heights scarcely able to walk after being on the
march and the battle field thirty-three hours. Probably about 8 of our company were
killed; we are not together yet and cannot tell who they are.
Another letter says:
After our first fire there was hardly any of our field officers to be seen!
Our Captain (Strong) and First Lieutenant (Doolittle) stood their ground like men. Capt.
Strong was sun struck and carried from the field. Peck, our Colonel, (I Hear) was in
Washington at 11 o'clock the same night; the boys will not sail under him again.
I upset two of the rebels that I know of and didn't receive a scratch except a spent
bullet that struck my hand but not to my injury.
At the beginning of the fight a cannon ball passed between me and the next to my right, it
was a close call for us. I didn't think I was born to be shot after that!
Chas. Filer was shot dead the first round. Heyer has not been seen since we were on the
field. Lyons, Coleman, Ginty, Stickney, Huggins, Ives, Yates, Patrick, Dowd, Gorman,
Burns, Barrett, the two Barrys, Capt. Strong., Lieut. Doolittle, Parsons, D. Smith, and
many others I can't remember, are all right. We hope to give them another trial in a few
Another letter dated a Georgetown, July 24th
Here I sit in the shade of a tree on the banks of the Potomac gazing upon Georgetown and
the Capitol of the Union we are struggling to save******Poor Charlie Filer told Cole on
the morning of the battle that he thought he would be shot that day. We were lying in a
gully, the bullets whistling over out heads, when Charlie raised to fire and I saw him
turn and fall into the arms of Thos. St. George and another the blood flowing in a stream
from the wound in his neck. Poor fellow, a blood vessel was severed and all he said was
"Tom, take care of me".
Willie Upham received a bullet in his shoulder which passed out of his back. Two of the
boys, Douglas Smith and Huggins, carried him away to the hospital. He exclaimed as he fell
"Oh my poor Mother" Henry Benson when shot mortally shouted "Hurrah for
the Wisconsin boys". James Anderson, a railroad man, was shot in the leg so that he
could not walk and was left on the field where he was either killed or taken prisoner.
Humes, who joined our company when the Beloit boys disbanded, had his right arm shot off
when we first entered the field and it is reported that he has since died. Capt Strong was
sun struck but the boys brought him off the field.
From prisoners taken, it is certain they had upwards of 75,000 men entrenched while we had
about 35,000 men exposed yet we drove them on every occasion when brought face to face and
maintained our ground so long as the ammunition lasted at our cannon and only retreated
when that gave out and Johnson arrived with large reinforcements to assist the enemy. But
they shall yet pay dearly for that victory! Our regiment is here at Fort Corcoran and fast
recovering from the fatigue incident to the battle. I suppose that we must again soon (in
the course of two or three weeks) repair to the same battle field to punish our foes for
the harm done us. As I was on my feet, from two o'clock Sunday morning till two o'clock
Monday evening, you may conclude I feel even now some what tired.
The Second Wisconsin Regiment
The Second Wisconsin Regiment which was in the same brigade with the 69th New York must
have been in the hottest of the fight at Bull's Run. Our dispatches contain the names of
several of the wounded and there are doubtless a number of killed and missed. Only one is
mentioned as killed. Corpral Wm. H. Collins of the La Crosse Light Guards.
Among the wounded are Lt. A. A. Meredith of the Randall Guard of this city, Sergeants S.M.
Bond and T.D.Bahn of same company and private Henry R. McCollum. In the Oshkosh
Volunteers, Sergeant W.S. Rouse and privates Alvin Bugber and H. McDaniels as wounded,
Corporal C.C. Dow in the Portage Light Guard and Private Wm. Raske in the Miners Guard.
Doubtless many more are List of Wounded of the Second Wisconsin
After the Stampede at Bull's Run
We give below two interesting communications, written by a gentleman who was on
the spot to a friend in this city:
Washington, July 23, 1861, 10P.M.
Mr. Benedict who is here by appointment of the governor to see the sick and wounded
has kindly furnished me with a list of the wounded (and the nature of the wounds) not in
the hospital in this city. He arrived here just in time to get to the battle of
"Bull's Run" and to care for the wounded there until the stampede took place
when he ran with the rest and to his credit we must say that he made good time and got to
Washington all safe, where he has ever since been, indefatigable in looking after and
attending to our sick and wounded boys. No better or more humane man could have been
selected for this errand of mercy.
I would send you a list of the killed and other incidents of this most disastrous battle,
but A. E. Elmore, with the aid of Benedict, has been all day collecting the items so far
as relates to our regiment. I have been with him all day at Camp Cochran, on Arlington
Heights where I saw all of our regiment that had returned to camp, which was about 825 -
930 went into the fight.
Some 20 came in while we were there. I saw all the Captains except Ely, who is in the city
and not hurt. Randolph was only slightly wounded. Lieut. Meredith is slightly wounded in
the right arm, between the wrist and elbow, and is in the city hospital doing well. All
our boys are cheerful and hopeful and eager for another fight.
The President and Gov. Seward visited the camp and spoke to the soldiers while we were
there. They called on Gov. Randall who made them a short neat speech and he was followed
by others. We shall not lose more than 40 or 60 of our men. Dr. Lewis is either killed or
taken prisoner - the latter is the most probable.
I am well and shall go tomorrow to visit the main army. On my return I will write you
Later, Washington July 23, 1861, 11 P.M.
I wrote you at 10 P.M. and now I have a moment more to spare - and I write to say that our
main army is at Centreville under command of Gen. McDowall. He has some 25 or 30,00 men
and all are well, but the whole command will doubtless be changed and Gen McClellan will
be placed in command of the Virginia forces - such is the opinion of the wiseacres here.
Our men will not fight again under McDowall or Tyler. The Defeat is attributed to bad
Generalship all around. I can't write more now.
Report of wounded in the Hospital in Georgetown, D.C.
Company A.- George Maynard, bruised in the chest by the
fall of a horse; Winfield Scott Leach, gun shot wound in left arm; L.M. Preston slightly
wounded in the foot.
Company B- C.C. Bushee, grape shot in the leg.
Company C.- James W. Martin shot wound in head (will recover;)
Chas. A. Garvin, shot wound in head and side, (will recover;) Geo.L. Hyde, shot in the
neck, (will recover;) R.J. Simpson, wound in left arm.
Company E.- Wm.S. Rouse, shot in the leg near the hip. Jos.
Robberts, 3rd. Sergeant, shot in left shoulder; H. McDavids shot in back of the head (with
recover), A. Bugbee shot through thigh.
Company F.- Wm. Fuller, shot in the ankle.
Company G.-Charles C. Dorr, buck shot through the neck and
coming out at the mouth (will recover)
Company H- Lieut. A.A. Meredith, shot wound in right fore-arm;
Sam. M. Bond, shot in the left arm; Theo. D. Bahn, shot in right shoulder.
Company K.-William Dutcher shot on shin bone; T.B. Whitney shot
in the fleshy part of right leg; C. Dusing, shot in the fleshy part of the left leg;
Cornelius Laver, wound in the back.
Sick in Hospital and not in action at Georgetown, D.
Company E.- E.T. Ellsworth, improving.
Company H.- Henry R. McSullivan, Chas, D. Culver, improving.
Company K.- James Hamer, improving and Dickinson, convalesant,
Columbia College Hospital on 14th Street, Washington City, D.C.
Company B- Reuben Wright, sick of fever since July 15, and
The Battle as seen by one of the Wisconsin
Mr. J.C. Chandler, (ye Shanghai) of the Adams County Independent, writes from
Washington to his brother in Cleveland a letter about the battle, that has found its way
into print. The following is exceedingly graphic:
"The horrors of a battle field are supremely greater than my imagination had
ever conceived. I saw the bloodiest part of it. Our regiment relieved the Zouaves, whom
the rebels rallied and charged on with more than demon vengeance. The Zouaves fought like
heroes and devils; but there were ten guns to one against them, and when they retreated
terribly ridden, our regiment marched into the most hellish shower of bullets you can
imagine if you try a month.
Probably nearly a hundred of our men were killed and wounded and some were taken
I had my belt shot off, a bullet bit my cap box and
cut the belt so that it soon burst, and while I was stooping to pick up some of the caps,
a soldier in front of me was shot through the breast just as he was aiming and threw his
gun back in his death struggle and hit me across the back of my head well nigh killing me.
I remember getting up and seeing our regiment forming a square to resist a charge of the
"Black Horse Cavalry" which they did successfully.
The colors of the Second Regiment the Retreat
From a private letter written to a Grant county friend.
Now in the city, we learn that the colors of the 2d Wisconsin regiment came very near
falling into the hands of the enemy. After being thrown into some confusion by the fire of
the N. Y. 69th upon their rear, the regiment fell back to an animal hospital in the rear
of the battle field, which was afterwards burned, and there reformed in good order having
no idea of retreating till Lt. Col. Peck came dashing past calling out for the boys to
reach Washington as soon as possible and the best way they could.
This created something of a panic, which was aggravated by a charge of the rebel cavalry
and boys broke and run, leaving the color bearer alone. One of the Color Guard - Geo. L.
Hyde had been wounded by a ball which passed into the mouth and through the neck,
fortunately without severing a prominent vein or artery, and the regular color bearer was
helping him to a place of safety - and the flag was temporarily in the hands of a young
man by the name of Stevenson who found it difficult to keep up with the rest and retain
the flag and was charged upon by some cavalry between whom and himself, how ever, he
managed to place a fence. Seeing his danger and the impending disgrace of the loss of
their colors, Richard Carter, one of the musicians, who was a clerk in the Assembly last
winter and his brother Geo B. Carter, threw away their instruments; gathered a rifle each
and a few cartridges, and stood by the flag.
After four or five vain attempts to increase their number in the presence of the enemy,
they at last managed to rally some 15 of the men to beat back the horsemen and get away
with the flag. Choosing Carter Captain pro tem, they marched on some 2 or 3 miles to the
vicinity of Centerville where Capt. Strong was found and, afterwards, Captains McKee and
Stevens with a few men. About 60 in number, they marched through Centerville with colors
flying and were molested no more till they reached Arlington Heights. It will be seen that
the Second Regiment most narrowly and through the highest heroism escaped the loss of its
From the Second Regiment
We are permitted to copy the following extract from a letter from a member of the
Grant County Greys to a friend in this city. It sets forth the position of newspaper
reporters during the late battle showing that their reports are not to be relied upon and
does justice to the Second Regiment: "Newspaper reporters in great numbers were
there and were "eye witnesses" of what? Why, they were stationed on the hill out
of reach of the rebel guns, and where they could not see more than a one hundredth part of
the battle field; and in the retreat they were the first to run and, to them, in a great
measure, is laid the blame of creating the panic; consequently they were good judges of
the order of the retreat and all the detail.
Yet they write articles giving with painful exactness - all the details both of the
progress of the battle and of the retreat, telling how many shots some regiments fired
&c. Some of the regiments performed miracles and proved themselves heroes, while
others (ours among the number) are either not mentioned at all or are mentioned doing no
fighting but huge running. Now I have borne and forborne, until I found an item in a
Milwaukee paper which gives us credit of not being within three miles of the battle ground
and that we did not lose a man until we retreated when we lost one killed and thirty-five
Now I don't want to make our Regimental heroes, but I will say that I was a disinterested
spectator, I saw as much as any reporter, and I will say that the Second Wisconsin did as
good fighting as any Regiment in the battle; I might except the Fire Zouaves. They obeyed
with alacrity every order given until the order was given to retreat, they were the last
save one, I think an Ohio regiment to leave the field. They had no idea they were
retreating until they reached the place where the line of battle was formed in the
morning, some 2 miles, when they received a command form one in authority to retreat to
Just then the cavalry charged and our boys seeing the rest run, ran too. But, unlike a
great many other regiments, they brought off their flag in good order and marched into
Centreville in perfect order. With regard to the statement that the Generals gave no order
to retreat but that they tried to rally them at Centreville, I will say an order was given
to retreat, by whom I know not, but no order to my knowledge was ever given to rally.
One sergeant asked a General at Centreville, what was the order. He answered,
"Retreat." "In what direction?" "To Washington, quick" Such
were the orders and the example was even more plain and significant.
Yours for the night
Justice to the Wisconsin Second-
They wouldn't believe themselves Whipped
(From the Washington National Republican)
Owing to a variety of causes some of the regiments engaged in the battle on the 21st of
July have failed to receive so favorable a notice as they deserve. Among such might be
mentioned the Second Regiment of Wisconsin.
This regiment was in the advance of Col. Sherman's brigade during the engagement of the
18th and is highly complimented by that officer for their coolness in their first exposure
to the enemy's batteries. In the battle of Sunday, the 21st, they were attached to the
same brigade with the Thirteenth, Sixty-ninth, and Seventy-ninth of New York.
Up to 10 o'clock, A.M. this regiment served as supporters of Gen. Sherman's battery when
they had orders to cross the stream leaving the battery behind them. Marching up the steep
hill on the double quick, they were soon formed at the top in battle order. In a few
moments the order came to charge down the declivity and up the opposite side pouring
volleys of musket shot into the enemy's ranks. In this engagement, where they were exposed
an hour and a half to the double fires of the enemy's artillery and infantry, they lost some thirty killed and sixty wounded. The Fire Zouaves,
who occupied a position during the engagement directly to the right, were often heard to
say that the "Wisconsin boys fight bravely, they are the boys for us" &c.
After the order had been given to retreat and the regiment had recrossed Bull's Run, the
made an attempt to capture their Regimental colors but a sudden charge upon the
cavalry emptied eleven or twelve of their saddles and scattered the rest in confusion.
At Centerville they halted and reformed when one of the corporals in Capt. Allen's company
rode up on a fine horse that he had captured and dismounted telling the captain to take
his horse that he would rather go back and be shot than to make a retreat.
And such was the feeling of a large portion of the regiment.
They do not think themselves whipped and nothing but positive orders from headquarters
compelled them to leave Centreville. At Fairfax, they stopped two hours when the men were
ordered to lie down and sleep till they should receive orders to march. Dr. Salter,
correspondent of the New York Times, accompanied the regiment to Fairfax from Centreville
and took supper at the latter place with some of the officers. The regiment was one of the
last to leave the field being preceded all the way by the Sixty-ninth. They returned to
camp in good order, occupying their old ground on Arlington Heights without the loss of
any provision or blankets and with but a very small loss of arms. The men are reported to
be doing well and more eager for a fray than before and will go into battle again more
coolness but no more courage.
The Repulse at Bull's Run - Second Wisconsin
in the Fight
The accounts received of the great battle of Sunday, the 21st July, show plainly that our
Second Regiment were among the foremost in the fight supporting
as they did Capt. Ayer's
Battery and fighting side by side with the gallant Fire Zouaves of New York and Col.
Corcoran's 69th regiment. In the first fight on the Thursday previous, from letters
received we learn that the 2d Wisconsin regiment was left exposed to a galling fire of
shot and shell by the sudden breaking of the 69th, which was in front, owing to the heavy
discharge from a masked battery.
Our boys, however, stood their ground manfully until ordered to retire which they did in a
cool and orderly manner - thereby eliciting much praise from General Sherman who was
himself on hand and consequently observed the whole proceedings. None of Co. A (Citizens
Guard of Fox Lake) were hurt in this first fight and in fact but few in the Regiment; Co.
B suffering mostly, Corporal Collins and young Graham of Trempealeau
reported killed and
several wounded. The fact that so few were harmed where the balls and shells flew about so
thick may be accounted for when it is known that in promptly obeying the orders of their
officers, the boys were less liable to be harmed than would probably
have been the case had they been any way slack in their movements.
And in the great fight on Sunday which though a superiority of the enemy in numbers and
the strongly fortified position they were in, the Government troops, while about to snatch
the laurels of victory, were suddenly defeated through a panic which, beginning with the
teamsters and civilians, a number of whom were on the ground, spread rapidly throughout
the whole of our forces and caused them to retire in a manner somewhat hasty and
precipitated in that battle.
Our Second regiment performed an honorable part being as they were in the thickest of the
fight and as a recent letter remarks "Fighting like Tigers", accounts received
here state that Col. Peck and Major McDonald were among the first to arrive in Washington
after the retreat began and when asked why they were not with their regiment (our Second)
remarked that the same were all lost and cut to pieces
whereas the "Badger Boys" were coming along under their respective Captains who,
it seems, refused to leave their men although they had lost a Colonel and Major. Should it
prove true that our field officers actually ran from their men - thereby completely
showing the white feather; what a contrast it presents when compared with the actions of
our Fox Lake boys who refused to leave the wagons containing ammunition and provisions
under their charge and succeeded in bringing them safely into camp, under charge of
Commissary Sergeant, Hank Converse of Randolph. The excitement in our quiet village on the
receipt of the news of the great battle may be better imagined than described - especially
on the receipt of several letters from members of the Citizens Guard. Young Patch of
Beaver Dam writes from Washington a letter in which he states that while busily engaged
assisting the wounded, he was forced to leave, which he, it appears, did in "double
quick" time on a stray horse which he succeeded in catching. The statement in his
letter that two of the non-commissioned officers, Messrs. Morgan and Marshall, fell before
his eyes while charging on the rebels, served to fan the flame of excitement to a great
degree - the following copy of a letter written by Corporal Waterman to his Father shows
that Morgan was merely wounded while no mention is made at all of Marshall who we have
reason to hope is still safe.
Washington July 23, 1861
"I am well as could be expected considering the fight we had on Sunday last -
Thinking that you would like to know something, I will tell you the particulars.
We marched from Arlington Heights on Monday afternoon about 3 o'clock. We went about five
miles to a little place called Vienna; there we stopped for the night. The next morning
our troops chased the rebels from Fairfax Court House. We went on to Centreville about 8
miles from the C.H., where we stayed till in the afternoon, when we were ordered to march
forward to support the troops that had been attacked by the masked battery at Bull's Run,
about one and a half miles from Centreville. When we got there, the cavalry were coming
back; as well as the Ohio boys and the cannon balls and bomb shells were making music
around our ears. It was here that the La Crosse boy had his leg shattered. We drew up in
line of battle when Col. Coon came along and says we will "show them what Wisconsin
boys are made of" which you could plainly see was the wish of every boy; but we were
disappointed, for after sitting about a half an hour, we were ordered back to camp but this
time we went ahead a half mile and encamped where we stayed till Sunday morning, 2
o'clock, when we marched up the country toward Bull's Run ,went about two miles when we
drew up in line of battle. We then halted to wait for Gen'l McClellan, as we understood
it, but that was not what it was for, as I have been since told. After about an hour, the
battery that was in front and to the left of out Regiment commenced to fire back till a
long while after. Then our troops began to fire on the rebels when they opened their
masked battery on us - doing fearful execution among the cavalry and infantry, when the
firing became so brisk that they thought the rebels were getting the best of us, we were
ordered to go and assist them - we then started off at double quick. When we got to the
ford, we drew up in line but had to flank to the right, cross the ford, up the hill and
across the field to where they were fighting. When we got there the battery was playing on
them with shot and shell. We them formed in line when we went right up under the hill -
the batteries all the time puring shot and shell into us. Not one of the men were hurt -
excepting one of the Racine boys had his arm shot off by a cannon ball. After we had been
under the hill about five or ten minutes, we flanked to the right, then through the defile
to the left. They told us that the rebels were retreating. That set the men in fine
spirits and they charged right up the hill, when they poured unto us the grape and
canister. After I fired the first round saw Ab. Morgan fall, that was the last that I saw
of him. We then continued to fire every time we got a chance. I got out of the place from
where I had been firing for the balls were playing too fast to suit me with some of the
Fire Zouaves where we fired till the cannon played too freely with us, them we left. The
boys were scattered in all directions. I went across to where we first started to the
charge where Colonel Peck was calling the Wisconsin boys. The black Horse Southern Cavalry
charged us and each man had to fight for himself - How I managed to get to Fairfax I
hardly know, the troops were running in all directions but the most of us are safe. Cap. I
understand was a little sick after he got to Fort Albany or near there. Morgan is in
Washington wounded but not killed - for he got here some way or other. Some of the boys
were killed but I do not know how many for I have not seen Cap., and he does not know but
that I am dead. I have gathered some of our boys - Dan Bennett, Lew Norton, C.C. Thomas,
Gould, Clark of Columbus and there is some of some other companies"
The above letter shows plainly that the Fox Lake boys have scented gunpowder,
and pretty strongly too. It was their first fight and from all accounts they acted nobly.
Serg't Converse writes that Lieut. Jones (our Billy) and young Morgan were among the
foremost in the fight; while the dailies give Capt. Stevens great credit for the manner in
which he led his company into action at the head of the regiment - Not having as yet
received anything official in regard to the killed and wounded from the Citizens Guard it
is therefore impossible to tell exactly who is hurt but will probably be able, next week,
to give a correct list. It is stated that quite a number of our boys are missing which may
easily be accounted for - owing to the great confusion they were thrown in during the
retreat and many may yet come in who are supposed to be lost.
Sergeant Converse writes that the rebels resorted to many mean and wicked devices to
mislead our troops - such as hoisting the American Flag, and at other times, a white flag
which they lowered on getting ready to fire the Hospital building and many other unholy
acts; which, if true, shows that they certainly deserve the sound thrashing which is in
waiting for them.
Your very friendly and acceptable letter was received
by me on the day after that Great Battle, of which you have long ere this got full
particulars and which was one of the hottest places I ever was in. We fared pretty hard,
but the boys did nobly. Our regiment was ordered up after the others had been repulsed and
what else could be expected than that we must be cut up like the rest. It was an awful
thing, and must be repaid in full one of these days. The papers will give you a list of
the killed and wounded and missing. I regret much the result but as no blame can be
attached to us, I feel thankful. We are all tired out and have not got fairly over it yet.
Frank Dexter, Carhart and Stafford are still missing, although we have hopes of seeing
them yet, as men keep coming in, having stopped on
the road. We are now encamped opposite Washington, and are getting ready for another fight
under another General which we hope will redeem this last one. I have lost my trunk and
every thing it contained. The men having it in charge with the other baggage, broke down
and left everything on the road and it fell in the enemy's hands; rather unfortunate for
me but not irreparable.
The above events "speak for themselves," showing plainly
as they do to the readers of the GAZETTE that our boys, as we said before, have so far
acted nobly and deserve much praise in consequence.
We certainly pray that the missing men will yet turn up safe and sound and have every
reason to believe they will but should it eventually turn out that they have fallen, it
will be some consolation to know that they fell like the Heroes and Patriots they were. It
has been stated on what is consitered good authority that a recent letter, received at
Randolph Station mentions the fact that Capt. Stevens, Lieuts, Mann and Jones and Orderly
Harmon Bouy, with three Privates of the Fox Lake Company were surrounded in the thickest
of the fight by a large number of the enemy who attempted to take them prisoners but were
unsuccessful as out boys actually cut their way through fighting like tigers.
"Harm" armed with a heavy Bowie Knife, killed six of the rebels outright -
driving in the blade to the hilt at every stroke, exclaiming while so doing, with great
emphasis -"G-d d-n you take that!" If this be so it will go far to prove that
Harm is not altogether a "harm"-less critter, when engaged in a free flight
among the F. F V's. Hooray for our side.
Since writing the above, news from Sergeant Robbins states positively that the three
missing men mentioned above are prisoners at Fairfax. Corporal Carhart
being wounded. Harm Buoy also reports himself wounded in the foot, but reached camp after
a two day's journey on the road.
Charley of Nimrod
To The Ladies of Racine
Under Clothing Wanted For the Sick and Wounded
By the following card from the Sanitary Commission at Washington it will be seen that
there was at the commencement of this month a great deficiency in linen for the sick then
in the hospitals. The disastrous results for the attack of Manassas Junction will fill all
the hospitals to overflowing with brave men who have fallen in defending their country's
flag. Our own gallant 2nd Regiment was there on that deadly 23d and we know not how many
of our own brothers and sons are wounded or have fallen. At this moment the wounded may be
suffering for the want of clean linen. That want must be instantly supplied if it exists
and provided for in advance it it does not. A letter is in circulation for the signatures
of those who contributed to the 4th of July fund authorizing
the committee of arrangements
to use so much of the balance on hand for the purchase of the materials for making such
articles as are needed by the sick and wounded in the hospitals. As soon as the materials
are purchased, the ladies of Racine will meet and organize for the purpose of making the
necessary garments. The ladies will find all necessary direction in Mr. Olmstead's
Sanitary Commission Washington D. C.
Treasury Building, July 3, 1861
The following articles which cannot be provided at present by government are immediately
needed by the volunteers in hospital:
Cotton bed-shirts, one and a half yards long; two breadths of unbleached muslin, one yard wide; open at bottom; length of sleeve three-fourth yard; length of
arm-hole twelve inches; length of collar twenty inches; length of slit in front one yard;
fastened with four tapes.
Loose drawers, one and a quarter yards long with a breadth of one
yard wide, muslin, in each leg a hem and drawing-string round the waist and bottom of each
leg; length from waist to crotch on the back twenty-two inches; and in front eighteen
inches with three buttons and three buttonholes.
Soft slippers of different sizes.
Towels and handkerchiefs.
Abdominal or body bandages; material, thick flannel; length, one and
one-half to one and three-quarter yards to overlap in front; width ten to thirteen inches
with narrow gores at the hips 3.5 inches and two inches wide at the bottom with three
broad tapes on each attached upon or above the gores.
The articles, if conveyed free of charge to this office will be acknowledged and
accounted for and used where the need of them is most pressing.
Direct to Sanitary Commission, Treasury
Fred Law Olmstead, Resident Secretary
More Bull Run