The 2nd Rhode Island was part of Burnside's brigade and took part in McDowell's flanking movement and the initial fighting on Mathews Hill. It is credited with firing the opening Union infantry volley of the battle. It is an interesting regiment due partly due to who served in the unit.
The 2nd Rhode Island was organized in Providence in June. It left Rhode Island on June 19 and reached Washington on June 22. Organized for three-years service, the regiment waz assigned to Burnside's brigade, David Hunter's division.
Colonel J. S. Slocum
Lt. Col. Frank Wheaton
Major Sullivan Ballou
Company A: Capt. C. G. Dyer
Company B: Capt. J. Wright
Company C: Capt. N. Viall
Company D: Capt. W. H. P. Steere
Company E ("Narragansett Guards"): Capt. I. P. Rodman
Company F: Capt. L. A. Tower
Company G: Capt. N. Goff
Company H ("Kentish Guards"): Capt. C. W. Greene
Company I: Captain S. J. Smith
Company K: Captain C. W. Turner
The 2nd Rhode Island lost 28 killed, 56 wounded, and 30 missing at First Bull Run. Colonel Slocum, Major Ballou, Captain Tower, and Captain Smith were killed or mortally wounded. Wheaton took command of the regiment and was later promoted to colonel.
Colonel John Stanton Slocum
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Slocum was a Mexican War veteran and was killed early in the fighting at Bull Run. Burnside wrote in his report: "The death of Colonel Slocum is a loss not only to his own State, which mourns the death of a most gallant and meritorious officer, who would have done credit to the service, while his prominent abilities as a soldier would have raised him high in the public estimation. He had served with me as major of the First Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, and when he was transferred to a more responsible position I was glad that his services had been thus secured for the benefit of his country. His associate, Major Ballou, of the same regiment, was deserving of the highest commendation as a brave soldier and a true man."
Major Sullivan Ballou
Lt. Col. Wheaton's Official Report:
HDQRS. SECOND REGIMENT R. I. VOLUNTEERS, Camp Clark, Washington, D. C., July 23, 1861.
SIR: In conformity with paragraph No. 723, Army Regulations, I have the honor to submit through you to the brigadier-general commanding the following report of the killed, wounded, and missing in the Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers in the late battle with the secession forces near Bull Run, Va. A more detailed report, giving the names of all killed, &c., is now being prepared, and will be submitted at the earliest possible moment.
It is my mournful duty to record as amongst the first killed, as he was first in the fight, our gallant colonel, John S. Slocum, who was three times wounded, and left in a dying condition. Major Sullivan Ballou, while bravely assisting in changing the position of our center, was struck from his horse by a ball from a rifled cannon, and also left unconscious and dying.
The total loss of my command is 114 killed, wounded, and missing. Among the killed are Colonel Slocum, Major Ballou, Captain Levi Tower, commanding Company F, Captain Samuel James Smith, commanding Company I. Among the wounded are Lieutenant Stephen T. Arnold, temporarily commanding Company B, and Second Lieutenant Henry c. Cook, Company I. The total number killed, wounded, and missing is 114; total number killed, 28; total number wounded, 56; total number missing, 30. A carefully corrected list of the names in full of all who are among the above will accompany my detailed report of the operations of the Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers in the battle of the 21st instant, as also a list of arms, &c., destroyed or lost in action.
Thanking you for the compliment bestowed us on the field, and for having assigned us the advance on our way to meet the enemy and the lead in the fight and the rear in the retreat, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain, U. S. Army, Lieutenant Colonel Second Rhode Island Vols.
Civil War in the East