Early on Monday morning, General Nelson despatched an orderly from a cavalry company to the river with a message. The General waited in vain for an answer, and the day wore away without hearing from the messenger. General Nelson was furious, and directed, the following day, a search to be made for the orderly. He was, after some trouble, found, and taken immediately to headquarters. He was called upon for an account, and said, in a brief, off-hand manner, that when he got to the river, he found several thousand skulkers, and six hundred of these agreed to go into action if they could find a leader. The young cavalryman promptly offered himself, and as promptly led the men into the hottest of the fight. He reported to General Crittenden, was assigned a position which he maintained all day, losing from his impromptu command ten men killed and fifty wounded. The General was so well pleased with the young man and his gallant conduct, that he immediately sent his name to General Buell, and instead of being a private, he is now a commissioned officer.

A begrimed individual, face several shades blacker than the ace of spades, and continually deepening in color from a contact with powder, hurriedly ran up to Captain Pick Russell and asked for a few rounds of cartridges. “Give me some, for God’s sake, Captain; right down here I have a bully place, and every time I fire, down goes a secesher.” He was accommodated, and while the Captain was filling his cartridge-box, the fellow was loading his piece. After being supplied, he dashed to the left and disappeared in the woods. A roar of musketry in the direction he took was kept up all day, but whether he escaped or not has not been ascertained.

Originally posted 2009-08-04 05:18:01.

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A correspondent gives the following account of the panic and flight at the battle of Bull Run: “I was near the rear of the movement, with the brave Captain Alexander, who endeavored, by the most gallant but unavailable exertions, to check the onward tumult. It was difficult to believe in the reality of our sudden reverse. ‘What does it all mean?’ I asked Alexander. ‘It means defeat,’ was his reply. ‘We are beaten; it is a shameful, a cowardly retreat! Hold up, men!’ he shouted; ‘don’t be such infernal cowards!’ and he rode backwards and forwards, placing his horse across the road, and vainly trying to rally the running troops. The teams and wagons confused and dismembered every corps. We were now cut off from the advance body by the enemy’s infantry, who had rushed on the slope just left by us, surrounded the guns and sutlers’ wagons, and were apparently pressing up against us. ‘It’s no use, Alexander,’ I said; ‘you must leave with the rest.’ ‘I’ll be d–d if I will,’ was the sullen reply; and the splendid fellow rode back to make his way as best he could. Meantime, I saw officers with leaves and eagles on their shoulder-straps, Majors and Colonels, who had deserted their commands, pass me, galloping as if for dear life. No enemy pursued just then; but I suppose all were afraid that his guns would be trained down the long, narrow avenue, and mow the retreating thousands, and batter to pieces army wagons and everything else which crowded it. Only one field-officer so far as my observation extended, seemed to have remembered his duty. Lieutenant-Colonel Speidel, a foreigner, attached to a Connecticut regiment, strove against the current for a league. I positively declare that, with the two exceptions mentioned, all efforts made to check the panic before Centreville was reached, were confined to civilians. I saw a man in citizen’s dress, who had thrown off his coat, seize a musket, and was trying to rally the soldiers who came by at the point of the bayonet. In reply to a request for his name, he said it was Washburne, and I learned he was the member by that name from Illinois. The Hon. Mr. Kellogg madea a similar effort. Both these Congressmen bravely stood their ground till the last moment, and were serviceable at Centreville in assisting the halt there ultimately made. All other civilians did what they could.

“But what a scene! and how terrible the onset of that tumultuous retreat! For three miles, hosts of Federal troops–all detached from their regiments, all mingled in one disorderly rout–were fleeing along the road, but mostly through the lots on either side. Army wagons, sutlers’ teams, and private carriages, choked the passage, tumbling against each other, amid clouds of dust, and sickening sights and sounds. Hacks, containing unlucky spectators of the late affray, were smashed like glass, and the occupants were lost sight of in the debris. Horsess, flying wildly by, galloped at random forward, joining in the stampede. Those on foot, who could catch them, rode them bareback, as much to save themselves from being run over, as to make quicker time. Wounded men, lying along the banks,–the few neither left on the field nor taken to the captured hospitals,–appealed, with raised hands, to those who rode horses, begging to be lifted behind, but few regarded such petitions. Then the artillery–such as was saved–came thundering along, smashing and overpowering everything. The regular cavalry (I record it to their shame) joined in the melee, adding to its terrors, for they rode down footmen without mercy. One of the great guns was overturned, and lay amid the ruins of a caisson. As I passed it, I saw an artilleryman running between the ponderous fore and after wheels of his gun-carriage, hanging on with hands, and vainly striving to jump upon the ordeinance. The drivers were spurring the horses, he could not cling much longer, and a more agonized expression never fixed the features of a drowning man. The carriage bounded from the roughness of a steep hill leading to a creek; he lost his hold, fell, and in an instant the great wheels had crushed the life out of him. Who ever saw such a flight? Could the retreat at Borodino have exceeded it in confusion and cumult? I think not. It did not slack in the least until Centreville was reached. There the sight of the reserve–Miles’ brigade–formed in order on the hill, seemed somewhat to reassure the van. But still the teams and foot soldiers pushed on, passing their own camps, and heading swiftly for the distant Potomac, until, for ten miles, the road over which the grand army had so lately passed southward, gay with unstained banners, and flushed with surety of strength, was covered with the fragments of its retreating forces, shattered and panic-stricken in a single day. From the branch route, the trains attached to Hunter’s division had caught the contagion of the flight, and poured into its already swollen current another turbid freshet of confusion and dismay. Who ever saw a more shameful abandonment of munitions, gathered at such vast expense? The teamsters, many of them, cut the traces of their horses, and galloped from the wagons. Others threw out their loads to accelerate their flight, and grain, picks, and shovels, and provisions of every kind, lay trampled in the dust for leagues. Thousands of muskets strewed the route, and when some of us succeeded it rallying a body of fugitives, and forming them in a line across the road, hardly one but had thrown away his arms. If the enemy had brought up his artillery, and served it upon the retreating train, or had intercepted our progress with five hundred of his cavalry, he might have captured enough supplies for a week’s feast of thanksgiving. As it was, enough was left behind to tell the story of the panic. The rout of the Federal army seemed complete.”

Originally posted 2009-08-01 23:02:29.

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An interesting anecdote, though of doubtful authenticity, is related of Franklin, who, it is alleged, in order to test the parental instinct existing between mother and child, introduced himself as a belated traveller to his mother’s house after an absence of many years. Her house being filled with more illustrious guests than the unknown stranger, she refused him shelter, and would have turned him from her door. Hence, he concluded that this so-called parental instinct was a pleasant delusive belief, not susceptible of proof.

The opposite of this lately occurred in Washington. In one of the fierce engagements with the rebels near Mechanicsvill, in May, 1864, a young Lieutenant of a Rhode Island battery had his right foot so shattered by a fragment of shell that, on reaching Washington, after one of those horrible ambulance rides, and a journey of a week’s duration, he was obliged to undergo amputation of the leg. He telegraphed home, hundreds of miles away, that all was going well, and with a soldier’s fortitude composed himself to bear his sufferings alone.

Unknown to him, however, his mother, one of those dear reserves of the army, hastened up to join the main force. She reached the city at midnight, and the nurses would have kept her from him until morning. One sat by his side fanning him as he slept, her hand on the feeble, fluctuating pulsations which foreboded sad results. But what woman’s heart could resist the pleadings of a mother then? In the darkness she was finally allowed to glide in and take the place at his side. She touched his pulse as the nurse had done; not a word had been spoken, but the sleeping boy opened his eyes and said, “That feels like my mother’s hand; who is this beside me? It is my mother; turn up the gas and let me see mother!”

The two dear faces met in one long, joyful, sobering embrace, and the fondness pent up in each heart sobbed and panted, and wept forth its expression.

The gallant fellow, just twenty-one, his leg amputated on the last day of his three years’ service, underwent operation after operation; and at last, when death drew nigh, and he was told by tearful friends that it only remained to make him, comfortable, said he had “looked death in the face too many times to be afraid now,” and died as gallantly as did the men of the Cumberland.

Originally posted 2009-08-01 02:20:45.

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One of the Indiana regiments was fiercely attacked by a whole brigade, in one of the battles in Mississippi. The Indianians, unable to withstand such great odds, where compelled to fall back about thirty or forty yards, losing, to the utter mortification of the officers and men, their flag, which remained in the hands of the enemy. Suddenly, a tall Irishman, a private in the color company, rushed from the ranks across the vacant ground, attacked the squad of rebels, who had possession of the conquered flag, with his musket felled several to the ground, snatched the flag from them, and returned safely back to his regiment. The bold fellow was, of course, immediately surrounded by his jubilant comrades, and greatly praised for his gallantry. His Captain appointed him to a sergeantcy on the spot; but the hero cut everything short by the reply, “O, never mind, Captain,–say no more about it. I dropped my whiskey flask among the rebels, and fetched that back, and I thought I might just as well bring the flag along!”

Originally posted 2009-07-29 13:12:36.

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