First Bull Run Samuel English: "Every Man For Himself and the Devil Take the Hindmost

Andy Cardinal

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Account of Samuel J. English, 2nd Rhode Island:

When the line had formed again I started off for the scene of action to see how the fight was progressing. As I emerged from the woods I saw a bomb shell strike a man in the breast and literally tear him to pieces. I passed the farm house which had been appropriated for a hospital and the groans of the wounded and dying were horrible.

I then descended the hill to the woods which had been occupied by the rebels at the place where the Elsworth zouaves made their charge; the bodies of the dead and dying were actually three and four deep, while in the woods where the desperate struggle had taken place between the U.S. Marines and the Louisiana zouaves, the trees were spattered with blood and the ground strewn with dead bodies. The shots flying pretty lively round me I thought best to join my regiment; as I gained the top of the hill I heard the shot and shell of our batteries had given out, not having but 130 shots for each gun during the whole engagement. As we had nothing but infantry to fight against their batteries, the command was given to retreat; our cavalry not being of much use, because the rebels would not come out of the woods.

The R.I. regiments, the New York 71st and the New Hampshire 2nd were drawn into a line to cover the retreat, but an officer galloped wildly into the column crying the enemy is upon us, and off they started like a flock of sheep every man for himself and the devil take the hindermost; while the rebels' shot and shell fell like rain among our exhausted troops.


Source: The Civil War: The First Year Told By Those Who Lived It
 

Andy Cardinal

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Location
Ohio
The full text of the letter is from All for the Union. The editor inserted the letter to supplement Elisha Hunt Rhodes's journal. Im not sure if English's wartime correspondnence is available elsewhere.
 
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