First Bull Run "I believe the rascals did it on purpose" -- Horatio Staples' Account of Bull Run

Andy Cardinal

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Account of Sgt. Horatio Staples, 2nd Maine:

"Coming to the top of the rise we saw just the other side of a dilapidated Virginia fence, a line or two of rebel infantry, and just back of them -- or mingled with them -- some field-pieces. The instant we made our appearance on their premises they gave us a hearty "how'd 'doo" in the shape of a volley of musketry slap in our faces. To this very day I confidently believe the rascals did it on purpose. We gave them five hundred of the same kind of pills. 'Twas the first time we had shot and been shot at in earnest. It was our first gunpowder christening -- a species of battle confirmation so to speak. Were we scared?

Well, honestly, I never knew; there wasn't time for first sensations; if I had sat down then and there in the most comfortable rocking-chair on that hill, and tried to analyse our feelings, I doubt I could have made a logical job of it.

There were guns to be fired, and guns to load and fire again; there was a nasty line of grizzly gray scoundrels on the other side of that fence to practice real shooting on ....

Now I am very aware that the crudities, blunders and defeats of Bull Run, and the consequent foot-race of fifty thousand leg power, is very small potatoes to you who fought and conquered at Gettysburg, Wilderness and Appomattox; but to us who there fought, bled and ran away, it seems even now quite an event although we did get smashed."


Source: War Papers
 
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lelliott19

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...very small potatoes to you who fought and conquered at Gettysburg, Wilderness and Appomattox; but to us who there fought, bled and ran away, it seems even now quite an event...
This might be the best way I have ever seen it explained. I mean that whatever battles you were in, each one must've been "quite an event." Surely some more than others. And in my reading of primary sources, it seems like the men who were lucky to survive at a particular battle often thought of that one as an especially big deal. Thanks Andy.
 
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