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    "Before they could form and present bayonets we were into them like lightening"

    Confederate Lieutenant William W. Blackford Autograph Letter Signed. Three and one-quarter ruled pages of a bifolium, 7.75" x 9.75", "Head Quarters Fairfax C.H.," August 6, 1861, containing a detailed description of scenes from the First Battle of Bull Run. Only sixteen days after the first major battle of the Civil War, Blackford, adjutant of the 1st Virginia Cavalry, describes to his Uncle John the battle, where his unit "lost in about one minute 9 men killed, 24 wounded & 20 horses killed." Of particular interest is Blackford's bold charge into the New York Fire Zouaves, scattering them. Folds but no separations. Clear, bold ink. Only minor soiling. In part:

    "I have been intending to write to you for several days but have been kept very busy by my new duties as Adjutant of our Regiment. We have been here now since the second day after the battle of Manassas. . . . We had a hard time of it for two days before and two days after the battle. We made a mark of about 80 miles during Friday and Saturday, from near Winchester to the battlefield. . . . The morning of the 21st we were up bright and early. . . . Hearing the firing on our left becoming hot we fell back to the rear, where we listened with purest interest to the engagement as it thickened towards nine o'clock. Here we remained until about the middle of the day when an aide came at full gallop towards us with orders for ½ of the regiment to go to the right& ½ to the left. Our Col. [J. E. B. Stuart] went to the left with ½ of the men & I with mine. This proved to be the main point of attack - not long after taking our position in rear of this hottest part of the fighting we were ordered to the front to charge the N.Y. Fire Zouaves who were about taking one of our batteries. We dashed through a skirt of woods and came upon their flanks as they were marching in column by fours, and before they could form and present bayonets we were into them like lightening. . . . We went through like a wedge shooting them armed with our pistols. Those in front of us we swept off in a few seconds. Hot times on right & left poured a terrific fire upon our flanks, we lost in about one minute 9 men killed, 24 wounded & 20 horses killed. The horses were so thick on the ground. I could hardly keep my horse from falling over their bodies, it was very dangerous to attempt to leap over them as they were floundering like chickens when their heads are cut off."

    At the end of the letter, the lieutenant directs his uncle to send mail to "Lt. W. W. Blackford / care of Col. J. E. B. Stuart / 1st Regt. Va. Cavalry / Fairfax CH." At the First Battle of Bull Run, fought just months after the surrender of Fort Sumter, both North and South fielded about 18,000 poorly trained, unseasoned soldiers. The Rebels won, sending the Union troops into a disorganized retreat. Blackford served the Army of Northern Virginia throughout the Civil War, surrendering on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2014
    12th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,052

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