Transcribed by Shirley Pierce
Camp of 11th Reg't, P. R.V. C.,
Monday, September 8, 1862
Dear Mother:You will be gratified to hear from me, and you will equally surprised when you hear that our army is now in Maryland; yet such is the case. We passed through Washington City about two o'clock Sunday morning, and are now laying in a woods about eight miles from the city, out of the Seventh Street road.I suppose there were from 30,000 to 35,000 troops came here yesterday, while the roads between us and the Potomac were filled. It is rumored that the rebels have crossed the river, and if so, we will have a battle before long. Since our release from prison, we have had very hard times, and had I not really underwent the task I would scarcely believe men could endure the hardships we have been subjected to, within the past four weeks. We left Fredericksburgh, Va., on the night of the 22d of August, about ten o'clock, marched all night, all day on Friday, and lay in an open field on Friday night, without tents in a heavy, soaking rain, started early on Saturday morning to join the forces at Rappahannock station, the firing of cannon being heard in that direction. We arrived at two o'clock only to find our force driven back, the bridge, station, houses, and a large supply of stores all on fire, and everything indicating a general retreat.As we passed the ruins we were subjected to a heavy cannonading from the rebels on the opposite side of the river, and we passed on toward Warrenton. We marched till twelve o'clock at night before we came up with the army, when we lay down to sleep again in the rain. We reached Warrenton on Sunday afternoon, lay idle on Monday, Tuesday marched toward Sulphur Springs - buildings at the Springs all destroyed that day by our forces - and on Wednesday passed back through Warrenton toward Manassas, reached Bull Run battle-field late Thursday night, and lay on our arms. Doubleday's brigade ran into an ambuscade that evening, and were severely cut up. Early on Friday we commenced the fight:our reserves were engaged all day, but the battle was principally with artillery.In the forenoon, our brigade attempted to gain a position on a hill, when the enemy opened a masked battery not three hundred yards in front of us, and we were ordered to fall back. In the afternoon we again attempted to take this battery; but when the 11th regiment came up, the rebel infantry, ten to one of us, raised out of the brush and forced us to back out and let it along. The fire was terrific. We passed through a corn field and the grape and shells came through our ranks like hail.The battle raged furiously till long after night, and was renewed on Saturday morning. We had the advantage and the enemy were giving way, trying to gain a gap in the mountain, when Longstreet came in from Richmond with fifty thousand troops, there engaged our left, when we were overpowered and forced to fall back. The main body of the reserve troops were on the right and were not called when they were needed. Franklin's Division did not reach us till Sunday, and Key's army corps stopped and encamped near Fairfax, ten or fifteen miles from the battle. We lost the field through the jealousy of our Generals, and the loss is a stigma upon the nation, say what you will. We had enough men to hold the position, while only a small portion were engaged, and these starved and worn down by long marches. Our men had but four days' rations for nine days, and had nothing to eat but green corn, apples, and fresh meat as they killed it along the road. The night before the battle I had two green apples for my supper, and the next morning a roasting ear. During Friday's fight I ate nothing but raw corn which I pulled as we passed through the field. When the left broke the rush was for Centreville, and such a time no one can describe:regiments and companies were divided and mixed up. With thirteen men I joined the 16th Maine regiment and proceeded a mile or two when Capt. Porter and a few of his men from our regiment, joined me. In the dark we became separated from the Maine regiment and joined the 3d Michigan. This regiment we left as soon as we found water, and some of the boys having coffee, we kindled a fire and made a cup of warm coffee. Among the wagons we found one loaded with hard bread which we stopped and took a box of crackers, which were soon stored away in our empty haversacks. It was fortunate we done so as we got nothing till Sunday night. When the army reached Centreville, the new troops had a strong guard along the fortifications, and stopped all who came up.Had it not been for this the whole army would have rushed together to Washington as they did a year ago - Sunday the Regiments were gathered together and order restored, and a portion of the army was engaged the same day, and on Monday a brisk fight took place between Centreville and Fairfax, the enemy attempting to cut off our retreat. During the fight on Friday, my boys acted nobly, and I really believe that their coolness when the masked battery opened upon us, saved the whole regiment from an inglorious retreat. Two whole companies surged down against us to avoid the fire, yet my men stood firm and by their example saved the whole brigade. I did not have a man injured, though several have been sent to the hospital completely prostrated by fatigue. The loss in our regiment in the late battle is forty-six killed and wounded. Of the 10,000 Pennsylvania who left Pierpont on the 10th of March, scarce 5,000 are with us to-day. We marched from Centreville to the heights opposite Washington, then back towards Fairfax, then through Washington to this place. Where we will be tomarrow, I cannot say. Of the 100 men who came with me from Brookville, I have only 38 including myself - some killed, some wounded, some detached on service in places where there is no fighting to be done, and others in the hospitals. I see that they keep up the Negro question in the North and talk of breaking the rebellions by freeing the slaves. There is one thing to talk and another to act. How are they going to free the slaves before the army reaches them. -Wherever the army has gone the negroes have ran away; but we cannot reach the slaves in the far South. McClellan tried to make them work at Harrison's Landing, but they complained bitterly that they had to work in the heat of the day, and say the Yankees are harder masters than the ones they left.Resides the course of our Government in agitating acts of confiscation and emancipation, only gives something to nerve the enemy to fight against. While our men are marching from place to place, without even being told where they are going - fighting without any knowledge what they are fighting for - at times bare foot and half starved - the enemy are fighting for their homes and their families - they say we wish to take their property and hang their leading men, and they fight desperately. If our men could be encouraged and stimulated to action like the Southern men, the armies of the world could not defeat us:but our men are discouraged - they begin to ask themselves what they are fighting for, and can find no solution except from some Northern paper, that the object is to free the negro.The army is opposed to this and would like to see the Negro question stopped, and unless it is speedily done, we must console ourselves with the thoughts, that the country has been ruined and made bankrupt through the imbecility of our people. While in Washington a few days ago, I heard it remarked that the Union was dissolved, and the contest now was only a question of boundary. If such is the case the sooner we end it the further our line will extend South. When I left home I thought my services were needed in restoring the Union and putting down a rebellion amongst a few political aspirants; but I have given up all hope of a restoration, and now look forward to a cessation of hostilities and a compromise by an acknowledgement of the Southern Confederacy. I am sorry to admit this, yet I cannot see how it can be otherwise, so long as our people are determined to keep up the negro agitation. We have been led to believe that there was a strong Union feeling in the South; but my experience both in the army and while in Richmond has been otherwise.You may rely that the Southern men are united and determined - they act in concert and have every equipment necessary for any army. They receive goods of all kinds from the North, and our Northern papers are received in Richmond regularly. Our army is sadly demoralized - discipline has been overlooked, and our Generals seem to be jealous of each other, lest some one may gain more honor than the rest. The army is down on Pope and McDowell, and the restoration of McClellan to the command has inspired our men more than anything I have witnessed for a long time. The people at the North seem to be opposed to him, but I assure you the army has every confidence in his abilities.During the retreat on the Peninsula, the soldiers cheered and waved their hats for him while they lay in the mud and swamps - while McDowell might ride along his whole line and fail to elicit a single sign of approbation. I could write much about the conduct of the war, which if known would open the eyes of the people in the North; but I refrain, because I know I would not be believed, and my motives would be attributed to other than the real cause. I have made up my mind to resign and come home, if my resignation will be accepted. I have tried the field sixteen months - been in four battles and endured any amount of hardships, and still I am unable to say what it all has been for. As for the battle-field, this is the only exciting time the soldier has - if it was fight all the time, we would be better satisfied; but the long tedious marches - standing picket guard, and such like, is what wearies and destroys the army. I suppose if I should come home now, there are many who would censure me and say it was cowardice, but such take good care not to try it themselves. I do not suppose I would stay at home long, even if I did go; but I would know what position to hold before I came back again. The easiest place in the army is that of Major - the most laborious, that of Captain. A private soldier has much less to do, less risk to run, and has better times every way than the commander of a company. I have written as much as will be profitable this time; but when I commence I hardly know when to stop. If I could give you a description of all I have seen since my capture in June, it would fill a book. Give my love to all the friends. I will do my duty while I stay, and if it is the will of God that I should lose my life, I am resigned. I do not fear death, yet I am content to live a while longer to enjoy the society of my family.Do not grieve or feel anxious for me - if any accident befalls me, you will hear of it soon enough. I still believe I am to be spared to come home, when I can then tell you of a soldier's life as it is. Farewell, may God bless you. E. R. Brady.
From Page 3 of the same paper:
"Read carefully the letter of the late Capt. Evans R. Brady, which is published on our first page.Capt. Brady fell at the head of his company, just as he reached the summit of South Mountain, in the battle on the 14th of September. His body was taken from the field by his kinsman, Capt. Wm. P. Brady, of Centre county, a soldier of the war of 1812, and handsomely interred. The bullet that inflicted the fatal wound passed thro' his sword belt, and produced instant death."
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