Lt. Jas M. Redfield Newspaper Articles
July - November 1861
Batavia, N. Y. Republican Advocate Newspaper
The library that has the microfilm is:
Richmond Memorial Library
Ross Street, Batavia NY
~ transcribed/submitted by Linda C. Conpenelis Schmidt
Republican Advocate -Batavia NY July 25-1861.
We get the following description of the stampede at Bull Run from a well-known gentleman of this city, who was on the ground two hours after the retreat began:
The reports of a disorderly retreat of our main army are grossly untrue. A brief statement of a part of what I witnessed will show this.
Mr. Tilley of Rhode Island and myself accompanied the De Kalb regiment from Alexandria in the cars to the Fairfax station, on the Manassas Gap railroad; we reached there at 10 A.M. Heavy cannonading was steadily going on. While the regiment waited for orders we walked forward on the track till within five miles of Manassas Junction. A scout was there sending hourly reports to Gen Scott of the firing. Returning, as the regiment still halted, a party of four of us, with a soldier, walked on to Fairfax Court House, three miles, and thence on the road to Centreville. About 4 o'clock we began to meet buggies and wagons with visitors returning to Washington. All reported that the day was ours, and rode on jubilant, until, at half past 4, an officer on horseback, riding fiercely, said, with emphasis, 'No, no, it's going against us.' The firing had ceased. Near Centreville, between two long hills, we suddenly saw army wagons and private vehicles coming down before us in hot haste -a few soldiers on horseback mixed in the crowd. Looking back we found a regiment coming fresh form Fairfax in "double quick." Mr Russell, of the London .Times, was on horseback among the first from the battle.
The New Jersey Colonel instantly formed his men across the road, and in twenty minutes perfect order was restored, and the whole flight of the vehicles was shown to be absurd, so much so that we waited two hours at that spot, drawing water for the poor wounded men, who began to limp along from the field; only tow or three ambulances to be seen. At half-past six, two hours after the battle was over, we started and walked back to Fairfax Court House, helping three or four wounded soldiers into the wagons. Those who were unhurt, and who had got by the Jersey boys, were stopped by A company of Michigan Fourth from Fairfax, and compelled to turn back.
At Fairfax Court House we quietly took supper at the tavern, and never dreamed of any disorderly retreat, we were supplied with good beds; we undressed and went to bed and asleep at 11 P .M. At three o'clock Monday morning, finding the wagons were moving on to Alexandria, we started again, and walked quietly along with them to Alexandria, doing what little we could to aid the men more or less slightly wounded, or worn out, -including some form the hospital -for still there was scarcely an ambulance to be seen.
But on the whole road from Centreville to Alexandria, I am confident that there were not five hundred soldiers in all, between 6 P.M. and daylight; so that it is grossly untrue that the whole army made a hasty retreat. On the contrary , all seemed to be certain that a stand was made at Centreville of the whole of our main body, excepting only the stragglers from this first panic. This panic was explained by several, who agree that it was purely accidental!
I talked at least with forty from Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin regiments who gave me some thrilling incidents of different parts of the field -which I have no time to tell now -many grumbled at their officers, but all seemed plucky, and I said that our troops could beat the rebels easily in an open fight, and would do it yet - but the masked batteries on one side and the blunders on ours had done for us this time.' I reached Alexandria at seven -having walked forty miles. G .P. Putnam.
transcribed & submitted by L. Schmidt, 20 February 2007
Spirit of the Times -Batavia NY August 10-1861.
Extract of a letter from Jas. M. Redfield, a private in the service of the United States, to his father, H.J. Redfield, of this village:
Washington, Aug. 3, 1861.
My Dear Father: I wrote you a few lines last week immediately after our arrival here from Fairfax C. H., but as I was tired I do not suppose my letter was worthy of the name. I gave you as many of the particulars concerning our hasty retreat from Bull Run, &c., as I could collect. You have in all probability ere this received full particulars concerning the fight at that place, so that it will be unnecessary for me to enter into any description. As you can see by this letter we are still in or near Washington, patiently waiting for the time to come when we shall be moved once more into the country of the enemy.
Our location is far from being a healthy one, although we are encamped on the top of a hill, and to all appearance healthy, but the water we have to drink is very poor, and to the south-east of us there are some commons on which has accumulated for some reason or other a quantity of carrion, the foul air from which is almost constantly wafted to our camps and renders it very unpleasant as well as unhealthy, and to this and the bad water is attributed much of the sickness with which we are troubled. About one tent of the regiment are at present on the sick list, and the number is increasing rather than diminishing.
What is your opinion concerning the legality of holding the troops sworn in for three years, before Congress met, more than three months? Much has been said here in relation to this subject, and several regiments which have been in service three months only, have returned home, although they took the oath to serve three years. I should not be much surprised if there should be some trouble in the regiment to which I belong, as soon as our first three months have passed; for my part I enlisted for three years, and am bound to say as long as I possibly cant still if my regiment should, in any event, want to go home on the 16th proximo, I am in doubt as to what I should do -I would not much like to enter any other regiment. Will you give me your opinion? J. M. R.
transcribed/submitted by L. Schmidt, 21 February 2007
Spirit of the Times, Batavia NY August 24-1861 .
We publish another letter from James M. Redfield, a private in the 4th Regt. of Michigan Volunteers, to his father, H.J. Redfield, of this village. The letter is interesting in showing the privations and hardships of the practical patriotism of the young Democratic soldier, who determined to earn a Commission before asking for one, shoulders his knapsack and musket and marches to the battle field, in contrast with that sentimental patriotism which is satisfied with an exhibition of flags, cravats and songs of the "Red, White and Blue." It is but a few weeks since these sentimental patriots involved the public indignation against an old and respectable citizen for non conformity -i.e., putting the stars and stripes out of the window of his house, and, at the dictation of an insolent rabble, join in singing, in the dead hour of the night, "the "Red, White and Blue." How few of these sentimental patriots have assumed the duties of the soldier. Listen and you may hear them whisper -"were it not for these vile guns, I myself would have been a soldier."
Camp Union, Va.,
My Dear Father -I received your very kind letter of the 9th inst., yesterday, an I assure you it received a very hearty welcome. I can scarcely thank you for publishing my poorly written and composed letters, still do as you have a mind to with them. You flatter when you deem them fit to appear before the public. I have received the papers you sent me, I only wish I could express to you my gratitude for them -anything in the shape of reading matter, especially newspapers, is highly appreciated by all us soldiers, whose stock of reading is so small. You will see form the heading of this that we have changed camp grounds since last I wrote, and that we are again in Virginia; the advance Regiment. We left Meridian Hill about six o'clock last Thursday morning, on an order the day before, and are now encamped about two miles and one half from Georgetown, nearly .west. Our camp, which we have styled "Camp Union," is very prettily situated on a clover patch near the road, and I judge it will prove by far a healthier one than was our last Already in fact the men have commenced regaining their good spirits, which we were on the Hill, they had quite lost Just before we came here, we were Brigaded in Sherman's Brigade, with three other Regiments, a body of Cavalry and what was formerly Sherman's, since Ayres' Battery.
We have been furnished with a blue uniform in place of our gray one, which bore too close a resemblance to that of the Secessionists; also new guns, with which (being minie muskets) I think we can do better execution than we could with our old Harper's Ferry muskets. - We have had very heavy rain for the last two days, and our camp now is almost afloat. It is raining so hard we are obliged to be in our tents, and in order to keep our few little articles dry, to pile them up in the water on boxes or something else, and cover them with our rubber blankets. These tents of ours are not of the best kind. They leak like a sieve when it rains hard, and sitting in them under such circumstances, is like taking a shower bath with our clothes on.
I was out on picket guard night before last. On our last picket 2 1/2 or 3 miles from Falls Church, it rained very hard all night, which made guard duty an arduous one. We were posted in the edge of the woods near a barricade across the road, and I stood nearly all night with the water as high as the tops of my shoes; I came back a little the worse for wear I can assure you, and have no desire to go picket again when it rains. We are constantly expecting an attack from the rebels, and are obliged to be constantly prepared to repel one. Last Friday night we were alarmed about 10 o'clock, an din seven minutes the whole Regiment was drawn up in line of battle; ours was the fist company on the ground. Saturday, as we were on dress parade, about six in the evening, we received orders to march to the railroad, near which one of our pickets had just been severely wounded, to repel an expected attack; marched there, 21/2 miles, in quick time, laid on our arms nearly two hours, and returned again, to camp without getting a shot. J. M. R.
transcribed & submitted by L. Schmidt, 14 February 2007.
November 16-1861. -Spirit of the Times. Batavia NY
Lieut. James M Redfield.
The friends of this young man will doubtless be pleased to hear that he has been elected to the post of 2d Lieutenant, in the Company in which he enlisted, to fill the first vacancy that has occurred among the officers of the Company since it was mustered into service. Young R., it will be remembered, enlisted as a private, determined to earn a Commission by doing duty in the ranks, before asking for one. In the estimation of those best qualified to judge of his merits and qualifications, he has succeeded.
Mr. Redfield states, in his letter to his father, that when the election was held he was doing picket or guard duty four miles from camp. The regiment to which he is attached, (4th Regiment Michigan Volunteers,) has, ever since the battle of Bull Run, in which it was engaged, had more of its share of this extremely hard and hazardous duty. He also encloses a very kind letter from Gen. Martinsdale, received immediately after the Company election, in which letter Gen. M. stated that it was in his power to secure him a Commission as Lieutenant in the 25th N.Y. Regt., forming part of Gen. Martindale's Brigade. But Mr Redfield felt himself in honor bound to accept the Commission thus tendered him by his fellow soldier and associates in arms, and to remain with them. The kind interest, however, will, we are well assured, be properly appreciated by James and his friends in this vicinity.
transcribed and submitted by L. Schmidt, 24 February 2007.