Thursday, January 27, 2011

The 13th Mass., at 2nd Bull Run

There's a new web page up at my website.  The page contains 13th Mass., soldiers' letters and memoirs of their experiences at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run.  I've had some of these materials for a long time, and I always wanted to share them with a wider audience.  This is a milestone for my site.  This is the point in the history of the regiment where many original recruits left, one way or another.  Second Bull Run was the first major engagement for the unit.  Forty men were killed, about 200 wounded.  About five hundred went into the fight.

Here's whats on the page.

An overlong introduction  but there are maps! - apologies ahead of time.  Then the source material.

  1. Excerpts from the regimental history by Charles E. Davis, (with pictures & maps!).
  2. A short piece on Major Jacob Parker Gould who was the senior regimental officer on the field.
  3. Westboro Transcript (hometown newspaper).  A letter from Capt. Hovey, Co. K listing casualties.
  4. Sergeant Austin Stearns account of the action.  (with pictures !)  Stearns memoirs have been around since the mid 1970's, so its a well referenced source, but he provides a good overall description of the chaos on the field.
  5. Letter of Lt. Charles B. Fox to his father.  (Co's I & K) Fox expresses his discouragement in the conduct of the war, and the difficulty of service.
  6. Letter of Lyman Low, Co. B.  Low's long account of the battle was published in the 13th Regt. Association Circulars in 1911, but I don't think many historians have seen it.  The Circulars are over 1,000 pages of material, and the letter does not reference 2nd Bull Run in the title.  He describes the death and wounding of several comrades and the chaos at the stone bridge.
  7. Letter of Capt. Joseph Cary, Co. B, of his companies losses in the engagement.  From the Boston Herald. (previously available on the defunct website "Letters of the Civil War.")
  8. The Three Ponies of Company B.  A story of the death of Charles Mills, and Albert Curtis, on the battlefield; from the regimental history, followed by a brief (1915) letter of their 3rd comrade, Michael Ayers. (with pictures).
  9. Letter of John B. Noyes, Co. B.  Another long descriptive letter from John Noyes describing the campaign, and what he saw on the battlefield. (with pictures and maps!).
  10. Letter of George Henry Hill, Co. B.  Un published letter shared with me by a family descendant.  Hill describes the experience of being under fire in the heat of battle. (with picture).
  11. Roxbury City Gazette (hometown newspaper).  The regular correspondent for the 13th Mass, from Roxbury describes the companies experiences in the campaign.  (Previously posted on the defunct website, "Letters of the Civil War." )(picture of Lt. Colburn).
  12. Two letters of James Ramsey, Co. E.  Shared with me by descendants.  Ramsey was taken prisoner on the battlefield and describes his treatment at the field hospital.  He compares this with the shabby treatment he gets later in Washington, D.C. (picture  of James included).
  13. Sam Webster's account of the battle.  Another well known source from the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. (with pictures).
  14. George F. D. Paine's well known story from the 13th Regt. Association Circulars, "How I Left Bull Run Battlefield."  Paine's narrative is so gripping it is quoted on the brigade's historical marker at Manassas National Battlefield Park. (with pictures).
  15. Letter of John B. Noyes.  A second letter, written from a hospital, well after the battle, when Noyes was recuperating from wounds received at Antietam.  He criticizes the conduct of several specific 13th Mass officers in the engagement. He was mad ! (pictures of the rascals included).
  16. Charles E. Davis, Jr.'s horrific account of his experience in the battle; lying wounded on the field for a week; and then receiving  worse than lousy treatment from one of the surgeons at Carver Hospital in Washington DC.  It goes on from there too...  Davis went on to write the regimental history of the 13th Mass.  (with pictures!)
  17. List of men killed during this campaign.

Here's the link:


  1. Brad - Wow! What a post! For many people, 30,000 words would be a good start at a book or monograph! Well done! I am so impressed at your incorporation of first-person accounts and your conscientious - if that's the right word - process of securing permissions, etc. I'm most impressed with your interaction with descendants of soldiers in the regiment...what a favor you have done for you hear from a lot of them?

    Keep up the GREAT work!

    Jim Schmidt

  2. Jim, as always, I appreciate your comments very much, as I am an admirer of your work.

    I try to keep in touch with as many descendants as I can - if they so desire. I share what I can with them at the time when I make their acquaintance. Sometimes its a lot of information I give them; sometimes nothing, other than what's printed in the rosters. Many times, the descendants have been more than generous in sharing items. I think I have been in touch with descendants of about 30 -40 soldiers now. I am very grateful for the resources they have shared with me. It enriches the history of the regiment ! Much more so than I could do by myself.