First Bull Run Foraging on the way to Bull Run

Andy Cardinal

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Curtis (Wikipedia)
The following account was written by Captain Newton Curtis of the 16th New York. The regiment was part of Davies's brigade, Miles's division at Bull Run. It is a story about the foraging that the green soldiers of McDowell's army took part in as they advanced toward Bull Run. The story takes place after the regiment reached Centreville on the evening of July 17.

Joseph Mooney of Company C, an experienced woodsman and bee hunter from the Adirondacks, was strolling outside of camp, when he came across a party of the Garibaldi Guards, with a beehive that they had taken from the apiary of a Virginia farmer. The escaping bees gave the marauders much trouble. Mooney saw their difficulty and, remarking that he understood the habits of bees, told them that he would show them the best way of getting their honey into camp. Thereupon, they invited him to instruct and assist them, which he proceeded to do with a not unselfish interest in the proceedings for, when they turned the hive over to him, he raised it from the base, and threw the bees in handfuls into the faces of the Garibaldians who hastily abandoned their booty. Mooney then shouldered the hive, after stopping the orifices with clay, and, starting for the camp of the Sixteenth, came into one end of his company street just as Colonel Davies and staff rode in at the other. When observed by the colonel, he was ordered to "drop that box" with a vigor that compelled prompt action. Mooney threw the box as far as possible from him, and ran to escape the pursuit of the bees, knowing that those in its vicinity would have something to think about besides inflicting punishment on him. The bees rose in anger and settled on the colonel, his staff, and their horses, stinging with such fury that those who were not dismounted rode hurriedly away, while the dismounted orderlies followed in great haste. The colonel reached his tent with one eye practically closed, with swollen lips, and in a state of general demoralization which in no way tended to induce him to condone the conduct of the miscreant who had brought the bees into camp. Mooney had not been identified by the colonel, however, and no one aided him in finding the man who had brought in the box which, for a time, set forth as many evils as the fabled box of Pandora. Mooney, afterwards, in apparent ignorance of the whole transaction, came forward and built a fire of brush, thus disposing of the bees so that the honey was distributed. But the bees were not all killed, and their presence was made known in several beds during the night; the shrieks that came from the occupants were accompanied by words that recall the habits of the "Army in Flanders."

Davies's brigade remained in reserve near Centreville on July 21 and was only
only very lightly engaged in the battle.

Source: From Bull Run to Chancellorsville, pp. 39-40
 
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