The Manassas Battle letter of Surgeon Erwin J. Eldridge of...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionThe Manassas Battle letter of Surgeon Erwin J. Eldridge of the 16th Georgia Infantry.
8 full pages written by Eldridge from Manassas Junction on July 26th, 1861. The content is spectacular, in part:
"The slaughter on the enemies side was terrible. We buried our dead (about three hundred) on the day after the battle. We expected, of course, the enemy would send men under a flag of truce to bury their dead. The inhuman wretches have done no such thing. We buried as many of them as we could amid the confusion, but there are still many, many still lying on the field, the prey of millions of worms."
"I do not know how many there yet unburied. I visited only a small part of the ground on which the battle was fought. I think I saw one hundred & fifty lying on the field. There are also about fifty of the enemy's horses lying on the part of the field I visited & as you may imagine, the aroma from the bodies of horses 7 men lying there since Sunday is not very agreeable. It is a horrible sight, dead, bloated and decomposing bodies lying in every direction."
"We have taken not less than two thousand prisoners, & the parties returning from the pursuit are bringing in more constantly. We took large quantities of ammunition, wagons, thirty or forty cannons, and no telling how many muskets and all kinds of small arms, enough they say to arm twenty thousand men, though I think that rather an extravagant estimate."
"Among other captured articles were twenty thousand handcuffs which they intended for our accommodation, and I suppose their intention was to march us handcuffed through Washington city. It would be no more than right to use them on their own men we have, though we are not disposed to play the trick write the extent they propose. That tho is not near as bad as to allow their dead to rot on the field with no attempt on their part to bury them. That I think worse than barbarians."
"And now to give a little account of the battle or rather of the part taken by the left wing of our Army, which by the way, bore the most of the fight. This you may rely upon as being very nearly correct. Our left wing, under Gen. Johnson, formed in an eminence from three-fourths to a mile in front of the enemy's line & was subjected to the fire of their rifled cannon without being prepared to reply. Our men were ordered to lie down, which they did & were moved from place to place in rapid marches to meet the advances of the enemy & strange to say, little or no damage was done the early part of the day, tho the balls kept up a pretty constant whistle, tho much above the heads of the men & the lying down saved no doubt many, & as they could not shoot, it was folly to stand up & face the fire. As far as I can learn, it was after dinner time before any firing of any account was done by the 7th or 8th Ga. Regts., & as they were a part of Gen. Johnson's wing, I suppose they represent the day pretty well. In the meantime, every movement they made was to the rear & our Army had retreated at least three-quarters of a mile & after standing the fire of the enemy, & retreating all day, late in the afternoon, they made a run upon the enemy & completely routed them, killing immense numbers of Zouaves & others, horses, etc., taking their batteries, ammunition, baggage wagons, etc. etc. & following them with two thousand Cavalry, & it is said that they took up the draw of the bridge in the Potomac & took all the boats on the other side of the river to keep them from crossing, so completely were they panic stricken that nothing but a river could stop their fight."
u Eldridge DESCRIBES WILLIAM NELSON PENDLETON!!! /u – "I was amused at the account of the clergyman, Captain of Artillery, here. At each shot he would say, "God grant that this may kill a hundred, & may the Lord have mercy on their souls."
A detailed Confederate Surgeon's letter. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection
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