Narrative of a Private Soldier » Chapter I » After the Battle of Bull Run

My great-great-grandfather, Charles Lewis Francis, arrived from Wales in 1860, at age 17, and shortly thereafter participated in the action of the Civil War. In 1879, he wrote and published a memoir of this period. I’ve scanned in the text and made it available as raw PDF scans and as an incomplete full-text PDF. As I correct the OCR’d chapters, I’ll be posting the sections to my blog. This is the third section of Chapter I.

First Battle of Manassas (First Bull Run)
July 21, 1861

Early in May I left Baltimore entirely, and remained in Washington and its neighborhood. Until July my time was divided between visiting camps and forts, attending the sessions of Congress, and generally, in taking in the events occurring around and about me. The battle of Bull Run was fought, and I witnessed the wonderfull extremes. A few days before, and I saw the fine looking troops from the North: they were well fed, well dressed, full of fight, and they moved from the various camps in the city, over the Long Bridge and on to Arlington Heights, in time with the music of many gorgeously uniformed and well appointed bands. With virgin banners flying, and speeches from the Preisdent and the eminent Senators and Representatives from their several States, the various regiments and brigades marched gayly on to finish the war in sixty days.

I saw the retreat, and when the troops filed into the city I mingled my feelings with those who feared that the existence of the nation was in its greatest peril. To render it worse, that direful day was dark and gloomy, and it rained in torrents. The returning soldiers were dirty, and begrimed with the historic clay of Virginia; some were shoeless, many hatless — all minus something, and all but very few with any but drooping and dejected spirits. All will hurry-scurry, and to all appearances without any definite aim other than that of arriving at comfortable camping grounds. Then we were afraid that the rebels would follow up their victory and enter Washington. It was said by many that the Government were wholly prepared to flee, that the President had gone, and it was fully a week before the people were reassured of their immediate safety. The best conditioned of our troops had been left on the southern side of the Potomac, but what did we know of that? Besides, our Provost Marshal’s office had not yet been completely organized, our spies were not so diligent or numerous as those on the other side, and the city contained within its limits a vast number of those who thought the enemy would soon be at our doors, and with whom a wish was father to the thought.

However, the feeling of despair in time gave way to that of hope and confidence, General McDowell was superseded, and by and by General McClellan, the “great soldier,” the “young Napoleon,” the “savior of his country,” took command of our armies. Troops poured into the city by thousands, daily and hourly: fortifications rose as if by magic, and upon all the hills around the city were bristling cannon, while at the feet of those hills and all around them was a vast camp of armed men. From the Insane Asylum beyond the eastern branch of the Potomac river to Tennalytown on the Rockville Pike road, and around in a circle, were camps of infantry, cavalry, and batteries of artillery.

One Response to “Narrative of a Private Soldier » Chapter I » After the Battle of Bull Run”

  1. thatbob says:

    Isn’t it a lot of work correcting the OCR text? And to think OCR was invented by Ray Kurzweil, who promises us that [garbled]. I hope The Singularity is a lot less work for the end-user than OCR. Living forever is going to suck if it’s an endless life of copy-editing.

Staypressed theme by Themocracy