Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld.

War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld.

September 4, 2012

War diary and letters of Stephen Minot Weld

Headquarters 5th Army Corps,
Camp at Hall’s Hill, Va., Sept. 4, 1862.

Dear Father, — We have at length, after fighting over a year, reached Washington, and are as badly off as we were a. year ago. Here we are encamped in the identical spot we were last March when we started off on our way to Richmond. And now what is this owing to? Simply to the interference of the Abolitionists and politicians with McClellan. They bothered him, and interfered with him until they compelled him to retreat from his near position to Richmond, and finally made him come up here, when he offered to take Richmond with 25,000 more men. He, however, pushed his troops on to Pope’s assistance with all the rapidity he could. Pope marched us and countermarched us, and wore us out by his marches, then let the enemy get between us and Washington and capture three new and complete batteries from off the cars at Manassas, in addition to any number of things which they wanted. They also cut off our supplies. Pope then goes hunting in the wrong direction for the enemy, and finally finds him at Bull Run. Here he pushes our corps from a strong position into the woods, where we are butchered and fall back, protected alone by our artillery. The left is turned, and were it not for the assistance of Sykes’s division of Regulars in Porter’s corps, the whole army would have been cut to pieces. We are compelled to leave the field with a loss of some thousands, and retire to Centreville. Pope waits here while all the generals tell him that the enemy will surround him. He wanted to get all McClellan’s troops and be in complete command of them. He gets them and retreats for Washington, being nearly cut off on his way. When near Chain Bridge McClellan comes out to meet the weary discouraged soldiers. Such cheers I never heard before, and were never heard in Pope’s army. Way off in the distance as he passed the different corps we could hear them cheer him. Every one felt happy and jolly. We felt there was some chance for Washington. The President and Halleck, after taking away his army and leaving him two thousand men and a battery, and after he had sent in his resignation, were compelled to go and see him and ask him to take command, as he was the only man who could then save the country. Two days before, when he heard his own troops engaged in battle and he wished to go out and see them, as a spectator, leave was refused him. Pope deceived the President and General Halleck by his lying dispatches. I only hope that they did not find it out too late.

I am perfectly well. . . .

Previous post:

Next post: