1861: Augustus White to Unknown Correspondent

This partial letter was written by 28 year old Augustus White (b. 1833) of Auburn, Androscoggin county, Maine, who served as a private in Co. H, 1st Maine Infantry (3months). There were several soldiers by that name but the key to his identity was the name and location of his camp near Columbia College on Meridian Hill in Washington D. C. This regiment was organized at Portland, Maine, and was mustered into service on 3 May 1861 and was mustered out on 5 August 1861. They did not participate in the Battle of Bull Run. Rather, they were ordered across the Chain Bridge on 20 July 1861 and held that position until the afternoon of 24 July 1861.

In his letter, Augustus conveys the hearsay news he received from those returning from the battlefield and repeats rumors of atrocities carried out by Confederates who murdered wounded and sick Union soldiers.

[Note: This letter is from the personal collection of Richard Weiner and is published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]

Confederate soldiers bayonetting the wounded Union Soldiers after the Battle of Bull Run, Harper’s Weekly


Washington D. C.
Meridian Hill
Camp Jackson
July 24th 1861

[portion of letter missing]

…thing for our troops to get drove but they did. But they fought like tyrants. This fight was at Bulls Run last Sunday. Ellsworth Zouaves was well cut up but they cut 2 to 1 besides taking 600 cavalry all but three and put them to an ever lasting death. The Maine regiments was scattered. Two or three of the New York regiments was cut up. The fight lasted 9 hours. Our troops—or the Right Wing—retreated but we now hold the battlefield. I expect that there was a fight that way today for the balloon was up.

If nothing happens but good luck, I shall be to home soon and then I will tell you all that I can about it. The boys haint found out yet what they are fighting.

31 July 1861 Cincinnati Daily Commercial article about “The Barbarism of the Rebels” killing wounded Union soldiers in the Sudley Church used as a hospital.

The rebels played a yankee trick in good shape but we will whip them yet for we can do it—that’s so. The boys are all hell bent to kill the whole of them for don’t you think that at the last fight when our troops retreated, they followed them up and cut the throats of our wounded and entered a hospital and bayoneted and stove the brains out of the sick and then burned the hospital. That is damn hard but they will catch it the next time we get at them.

I don’t think of any more to write now for I am coming home soon. Then you know that I am in for a good time. I want you to get me some good old girl that will do…

[portion of letter missing]

…matter with me. From your old friend, — Augustus White

In haste. Don’t wait again for I shan’t stop here long enough to write another letter. Goodbye until I see you with my eyes.

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