"Sunday, the 1st of August about 2 o'clock the drums beat the assembly, and in ten minutes we were on our march for Alexandria Defenses [in reality this letter was about first Bull Run and refers to the 21st of July] having heard the enemy were waiting to receive us, our troops then numbering 25 or 30 thousand which were divided into three columns ours under Col Hunter taking the right through a thick woods. About eleven o'clock as our pickets were advancing through the woods a volley was poured in upon them from behind a fence thickly covered with brush; the pickets after returning the shots returned to our regiment and we advanced double quick time yelling like so many devils.
On our arrival into the open field I saw I should judge three or four thousand rebels retreating for a dense woods, firing as they retreated, while from another part of the woods a perfect hail storm of bullets, round shot and shell was poured upon us, tearing through our ranks and scattering death and confusion everywhere; but with a yell and a roar we charged upon them driving them again into the woods with fearful loss. In the mean time our battery came up to our support and commenced hurling destruction among the rebels.
Next, orders were given for us to fall back and protect our battery as the enemy were charging upon it from another quarter, and then we saw with dismay that the second R. I. regiment were the only troops in the fight; the others having lagged so far behind that we had to stand the fight alone for 30 minutes; 1100 against 7 or 8 thousand. It was afterwards ascertained from a prisoner that the rebels thought we numbered 20 or 30 thousand from the noise made by us while making the charge. While preparing to make our final effort to keep our battery out of their hands, the 1st R.I. regiment then came filing over the fence and poured a volley out to them that drove them under cover again; they were followed by the New York 71st and the Hampshire 2nd regiments, with 2,000 regulars bringing up the rear who pitched into the "Sechers" (Secessionists) most beautifully.
Our regiments were then ordered off the field and formed a line for a support to rally on in case the rebels over powered our troops. When the line had formed again I started off for the scene of action to see how the fight was progressing. As I emerged from the woods I saw a bomb shell strike a man in the breast and literally tear him to pieces. I passed the farm house which had been appropriated for a hospital and the groans of the wounded and dying were horrible.
I then descended the hill to the woods which had been occupied by the rebels at the place where the Elsworth zouaves made their charge; the bodies of the dead and dying were actually three and four deep, while in the woods where the desperate struggle had taken place between the U.S. Marines and the Louisiana zouaves, the trees were spattered with blood and the ground strewn with dead bodies. The shots flying pretty lively round me I thought best to join my regiment; as I gained the top of the hill I heard the shot and shell of our batteries had given out, not having but 130 shots for each gun during the whole engagement. As we had nothing but infantry to fight against their batteries, the command was given to retreat; our cavalry not being of much use, because the rebels would not come out of the woods.
The R.I. regiments, the New York 71st and the New Hampshire 2nd were drawn into a line to cover the retreat, but an officer galloped wildly into the column crying the enemy is upon us, and off they started like a flock of sheep every man for himself and the devil take the hindermost; while the rebels' shot and shell fell like rain among our exhausted troops.
As we gained the cover of the woods the stampede became even more frightful, for the baggage wagons and ambulances became entangled with the artillery and rendered the scene even more dreadful than the battle, while the plunging of the horses broke the lines of our infantry, and prevented any successful formation out of the question. The rebels being so badly cut up supposed we had gone beyond the woods to form for a fresh attack and shelled the woods for full two hours, supposing we were there, thus saving the greater part of our forces, for if they had begun an immediate attack, nothing in heaven's name could have saved us. As we neared the bridge the rebels opened a very destructive fire upon us, mowing down our men like grass, and caused even greater confusion than before. Our artillery and baggage wagons became fouled with each other, completely blocking the bridge, while the bomb shells bursting on the bridge made it "rather unhealthy" to be around. As I crossed on my hands and knees, Capt. Smith who was crossing by my side at the same time was struck by a round shot at the same time and completely cut in two. After I crossed I started up the hill as fast as my legs could carry and passed through Centreville and continued on to Fairfax where we arrived about 10 o'clock halting about 15 minutes, then kept on to Washington where we arrived about 2 o'clock Monday noon more dead than alive, having been on our feet 36 hours without a mouthful to eat, and traveled a distance of 60 miles without twenty minutes halt.
The last five miles of that march was perfect misery, none of us having scarcely strength to put one foot before the other, but I tell you the cheers we rec'd going through the streets of Washington seemed to put new life into the men for they rallied and marched to our camps and every man dropped on the ground and in one moment the greater part of them were asleep. Our loss is estimated at 1,000, but I think it greater..."
I’ve looked at all the enemy forces I can see and I’m really starting to think there are some forces lurking somewhere in the fog of war. There should be more Union troops on the map somewhere and I’m also not seeing all the generals I’d expect to see. The losses on the Virginian front over the last two months could explain some of it and so could Union fighting with one arm tied, having ordered as many as 3 factory building options over the course of the war thus far. But until this month, I’ve taken losses comparable to the North and have still managed to add a significant amount of units to the front. I’m estimating there are 10-15K men under Gen Nelson outside Munfordville and there are probably another 10-15K under Lyon at Jefferson City or in the nearby region. Aside from locked garrison forces, there’s another brigade at StLo and there are unknown but significant number of forces at Cincinnati & Cairo, and an estimated couple thousand at Charleston, WV south of Morgantown. It’s likely most of Nelson’s forces in Kentucky were from the camp and not ordered. So the question remains where are the additional forces the Union should have and where are they?
Perhaps the North is building large naval forces that sucks up lots of money and WS, and is about to launch or already have launched a naval invasion, or if it is about to spring a large force on me in Mizzou, Kentucky, or Virginia/Maryland. I do think they should have a lot more units down on the map then I'm seeing along all the fronts and what my scouting and line of sight are picking up. Another 10-20K in Virginia would go a long way towards helping the North stabilize that front. They also got caught with large forces 'trapped' at Harper's Ferry and Leesburg without having enough men to secure Alexandria. We are happy to trade Harper's Ferry for Alexandria.
...But let me sketch the probable evils resulting from this determination of the South to let loose her privateering murderers. As soon as this news is telegraphed from the secession capital of Alabama, to the Southern seaports, that instant the worst of the bankrupt merchants, the rich "rowdies," and old slave dealers, will rake up every possible old schooner and raking clipper they can find to scour the seas, for rapine and plunder. They will buy some old guns, which they will get rifled; they will lay in grape-shot and round-shot; and then put up placards in the bar-rooms and dram-shops, and collect sailors. And whom will they get? The patriot—the honest—the merciful—the brave? No: the thieving drunkard—the homicide—the gang- driver—the slave-hunter—the runaway-convict—the swindler—the murderer,—the seven Deadly Sins for officers, all the Passions for crew, and Apollyon himself for sailing-master.
And what will they do first? These men are mere midnight murderers; they will steal up creeks, and float with muffled oars round harbours; they will seize free negroes, and send them to die in the rice swamps round Savannah River; they will cut brave men's throats in their sleep, and seize unsuspecting fishingboats, burn quiet seaside villages, seize outlying barks, do the devil's work in God's name, and go home and exult over their patriotic labours, and thank Heaven for making them other men than those proud Pharisees of the North.
The motive of a privateersman is plunder. He comes out to steal—to fight and steal—but not to fight if he cannot steal. The privateersman is the common enemy of mankind, as the pirate is, and he should be treated as such, and hanged by whomsoever can get a rope on his neck. The laws of God and man are against him.
Let us suppose for a moment that duel is a lawful combat, and that the most skilful shot could decide the right or redress a wrong. Because I, A., challenge B. for slandering and basely injuring me, is that any reason why all B.'s kinsmen should think themselves permitted to go about armed, looking for all my (A.'s) relations, in order to stab, rob, and pistol them? How much more, then, would it be insufferable, if not only B.'s friends, but all the scum and hangdogs of B.'s parish should arm themselves and sally out to burn my ricks and harry my stables; and this because some ridiculous parochial law existed, permitting anybody paying eighteenpence, and buying a stamped paper, to take up B.'s quarrel and injure and torment me, A.!
No! laws are not perfect, nor nations either; still the nation that encourages privateering is tolerating a wicked and unjust thing. There must be snakes, nature says; and even the mosquito may have its use in the vast circumference of things. But bad and useless as war is, it is not so bad and useless as privateering. It belongs to the day when religious disputants burnt each other, and generals plundered towns that had been absurd enough not to allow themselves to be taken without resistance. It belongs to the age that shut up Galileo for saying that the earth moved, and it belongs to that earlier age that stoned the prophets. It is a disgrace to the time, and is contrary to all the laws of humanity. We no longer employ Indians to scalp our enemies, nor do we cram our prisoners into great ogre images and then set them on fire. We have learnt to temper the horrors of war. But to encourage privateersmen is to let loose swarms of murderers to scourge the seas, and to render the commerce of every nation unsafe; to give the bad, privilege, under the protection of a flag, to commit every crime with impunity.
Privateering, whatever Grotius, Vattel, Puffendorf, or anybody else, may say, is legalised piracy. The nation that grants letters of marque, grants the right to speculate in human blood and human life. An age that has grown ashamed of pouring red-hot shot into defenceless towns; of ravaging unoffending territories; of carrying away poor harmless women into infamous captivity; of torturing prisoners; of poisoning springs; of robbing and slaying sacked towns, ought also to be ashamed of privateering.
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