1861: “We Could See The Enemy Plainly”

Gazette665 Blog Series 1861: In Their WordsAugust 10, 1861

The fighting was desperate for about half an hour; when a sort of lull took place as if by mutual consent, to draw breath and let the smoke clear away.

When the smoke cleared away a little we could see the enemy plainly. They stood as firm as ever, but their ranks were thinned and their dead lay think. …Some of them had been slightly wounded in the head but they still stood in their places, while the blood running down their faces gave them a ghastly but fierce and determined look… Continue reading

1861: “I Could Become Dictator…”

Gazette665 Blog Series 1861: In Their Words

July 27 / 61 Washington D.C. Saturday

I have been assigned to the command of a Division – composed of Depts of N.E. Va (that under McDowell) & that of Washington (now under Mansfield) – neight of them like it much – especially Mansfield, but I think they must ere long become accustomed to it, as there is no help for it…

I find myself in a new & strange position here – Presdt, Cabinet, Genl Scott & all deferring to me – by some strange operation of magic I seem to have come the power of the land. I almost think that were I to win some small success now I could become Dictator or anything else that might please me – therefore I won’t be Dictator. Admirable self-denial! I see already the main causes of our recent failure – I am sure that I can remedy these & am confident that I can lead these armies of men to victory once more. I start tomorrow very early on a tour through the lines on the other side of the river – it will occupy me all day long ( a rather fatiguing ride it will be – but I will be able to make up my mind as to the state of things. Refused invitations to dine today from Genl Scott & four Secy’s – had too many things to attend to… Continue reading

1861: “We Did Not Realize Our First Battle Was So Near At Hand”

Members of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, June 1861. (More photographs are available here: http://www.provlib.org/blog/2nd-regiment-company-f-rhode-island-volunteers)

Members of the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment, June 1861. (More photographs are available here: http://www.provlib.org/blog/2nd-regiment-company-f-rhode-island-volunteers)

July 21, 1861

About two o’clock this morning we left “Bush Camp,” and marching down the hill, through Centreville, found the woods obstructed by wagons and troops that had failed to start on time. Soon the Second [Rhode Island Regiment] left the main road and struck off the right, through a wood path that had been much obstructed. As we led the Brigade the task of clearing the road fell to us, and hard work we found it.

About nine o’clock in the forenoon we reached Sudley church, and a distant gun startled us, but we did not realize that our first battle was so near at hand. We now took a side road that skirted a piece of woods and marched for some distance, the men amusing themselves with laughter and jokes, with occasional stops for berries. Continue reading