|Unit History Project|
12th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry
It is energetic times here. The great energies that are being put forth by the Government to prosecute the war to suppress this barbarous rebellion, is an evidence that no efforts will be spared, no measure left idle, till final and complete victory is won. The disastrous results that followed the battle of Bull's Run on Sunday last, have but served to arouse every sleeping energy, to sharpen anew the desire for vengeance on the part of our army. It is quite difficult to tell the real cause of the panic that suddenly seized our troops, just as the battle was won. They fought with perfect desperation. Three times they took the batteries, and as many times were they repulsed by the timely arrival of reinforcements to the enemy.
There were engaged on our side from seventeen to twenty thousand men, while the enemy had from four to five times that number.
I have just had a conversation with one of the 1st Minnesota Regiment, who was in the thickest of the fight, who says that when they drove the enemy once from their position, he came across one of their wounded, who asked him for a drink of water. The wounded soldier remarked, "Boys, you fight bravely, but you must retreat, for we are a hundred and twenty thousand strong." The enemy were concealed behind masked batteries, which were monuments of engineering skill. So perfect was their concealment, that our forces were drawn entirely into them before they were discovered. Their strategy was as complete as their forts were strong.
When the Minnesota 1st, and New York Zouaves advanced, the enemy, standing in their positions, waved the Union Flag, and with cheers beckoned our forces to come on, and when they were in range, they opened a deadly fire of grape and canister but notwithstanding this, they charged and took the battery.
Their batteries were so arranged that one raked the other, so that when one was taken, it was covered by a second, and this one by a third, and so on.
The New York 12th is the subject of much ill-founded comment by the press. - Before sundown, on the day of the first battle, the rumor was rife on the Avenue, and had no doubt found its way over the wires to different parts of the land, that they run, beat a precipitate retreat, and the Colonel was found two miles from the scene of action, on a stone heap.
Some brilliant genius must have labored earnestly to have originated such a consumate falsehood as this.
The New York 12th fought bravely, valiantly; their Colonel was in the midst of the fight, cheering and urging his men forward. This is the evidence of not only the men, but of officers of other regiments. This base fabrication will be ferreted to the bottom, as the Colonel has taken measures to have his conduct on that day inquired into.
Capt. Root's Company escaped with the loss of one man, he was from Richville, and two wounded. William Grimes, of Batavia, is badly wounded, with a bayonet wound in his groin. Young Loudon, reported to have been killed, escaped unharmed.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History