Saturday, July 23, 2011

Panic Seized the Volunteers . . .

Today's entry is correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General dated July 23, 1861.

At the start of the Civil War, Sedgwick served as a  colonel and Assistant Inspector General of the Military Department of Washington. He missed the early action of the war at the First Battle of Bull Run while recovering from cholera.

WASHINGTON, D. C., July 23, 1861. My dear sister: Our army has suffered one of the most terrible defeats on record—one of the most disgraceful! We have lost everything, even our honour. When I last wrote you the army had marched in high spirits, and every one predicted a prosperous result, and some little success was obtained ; but a panic seized the volunteers, they threw away everything they had, and fled in terrible disorder. Whole regiments fled without giving a shot or getting near the enemy. Our artillery behaved bravely; they maintained their position till they lost so many men and horses that many were obliged to leave their guns. The loss of property was immense; it is hoped the loss of life not great, but no reports are made yet. We are disorganized, and if the enemy had not suffered severely, as we hope they have, they could have marched into Washington last night. I went to bed night before last believing that everything was going on well, and yesterday was ill in my room all day till three o'clock, when I learned of the terrible disaster. I have no heart to write more. . .
John Sedgwick, from Library of Congress Collection

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