Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Boys of '61 Event Report

Ballestone Manor
April 22-23, 2006
Essex, Md.
April 23, 1861
Dear All,

I write this missive with my mechanical pencil since all that I have in the way of paper is mostly damp. Any attempt to sit down with pen and ink would lead to a blotted mess. We were on the road for some time, traveling the pikes of Maryland. Over the course of the day the clouds pursued us. On towards dusk, we were turned into a large field next to a fine old plantation house called Ballestone Manor. The grounds were quite nice, and they backed up on to the river, affording sublime views. At least until the first several tents went up. Then the clouds issued forth a steady stream of rain. We were situated with our equipment in the tents, but little in the way of rations or will to fight the rains for a cook fire. Several of us were of the mind to retrace our steps back up the peninsula and return to an inn we had passed for a supper both hot and dry. We did this, and were treated to a wonderful meal mostly of local crab and crab cakes, and other fare. No one will call Gary dumb again, and we were thankful for his picking this location and picking up the tab. Federal greenbacks were only shortly examined in tender for our debts. We made our way back to camp, and found that there was some delay of our forces coming up in the rain, so we piled into the wedges in fine style and talked and sang most of the evening away.

Morning came, and still the rain. A brave Walter came out to get up a coffee fire, and with a strike of a flint, he was brandishing a sort of contraption that would not be quelled by the rain. He mentioned that the device was indeed filed with the patent office, and pending their notice, would be kept under wraps from public scrutiny. All agreed that further prying was not needed, and the strong fire was our reward. Breakfast was followed by morning reports, such as they were, to brigade command. A guard mount was conducted, and the sentries were posted. After a time, a short battalion drill was conducted to shake the rust off, but it proceeded to form as we shook.

Along in the late afternoon, the Colonel rounded up the most of the officers, and conducted a detailed reconnaissance of the grounds approaching Big Bethel. We subsequently formed the brigade, and marched off in said direction. The 5th New York Zouaves were sent forward as skirmishers, and engaged the rebels behind strong breastworks. We of the 3d New York State Militia followed them in, and attacked on the left of the fortifications. We pushed, held, fought toe to toe, and then were obliged to retire for ammunition. That was pretty much the battle of Big Bethel. Small, short, hot, and wet. We returned to camp, and were once again called to arms about six o'clock. We marched for the river banks, and were recalled once a peal of thunder and accompanying lightening lit our paths. Back to camp, still raining, wet supper, wet camps, close company under canvas.

The morning came once more, without sun. The patent pending contraption once more lit the water filled fire pit, and soaked fire wood. Coffee and breakfast was had by all, and a slackening of the rains was starting to be detectable. The Colonel called his officers in and determined to march for Balls Bluff immediately. And so we were en route once more, and were posted by the river, after the crossing, with our backs to the river. No alarm or nervousness was observed, until the rebels made their push, which we stood up to, but were bent back both left and right flanks by their combined numbers. The rout was started. Our California Regiment held a time, then peeled away in the panic, running for the river. The rebels swept the field, and landed several fish, including a smelly, soaked, me. They were quick to parole us, however, and we were back in camp before the sun came out.

And come out it did. To the cheers of all, it cleared, and a beautiful sky blue sunny day began. The camps were starting to dry, and people started moving around. Church services were held, and other activities were underway. A swarm of anrgy women came to headquarters, demanding restitution from some illegal foragers.It seems that the AAG lead the swarm into our battalions camp, and after finding the OOD, were able to identify the predators, found in the ranks of the Jersey boys. It seems that they somehow had shagged an apple pie or two, and were not invited to. The predators were very crude, and were disresptectful to the citizens and the officers. They were sentenced to hard labor. They were to go back to the kitchen, and do all the dishes and sweep the floors, all at the pleasure of the ladies. They silently complied. Maj. Buffington drew up a safeguard and posted it on the property to dissuade any further infractions.

As the day continued towards noon, the word was passed, and the battalion formed once more. We were under way in no time, and were marching towards Dranesville, Virginia. The 9th Penn. Reserve was the third battalion. The action opened with a strong skirmish line of the 5th NY, being engaged by a strong rebel line. Theey held in check for a good long time, as the artillery started getting on each others flanks. The second battlion went in right for the center, and we of the 9th subsequently went in on the right flank. We fought, advanced, fought, were pushed back, loosing some cowards, mostly the pie thieves, and then we stood our ground. We pounded the rebels until they ran out of ammunition, and we were victorious, and in possession of the field. We gathered some of the skulkers on the way back to camp. The orders were given, and the General was sounded. Down came all the canvas, up came the wagons, and we were all off to parts unknown once more. I will write once our next location is confirmed, and I can get to the post office once more. I do hope that all my papers will dry, and not be totally ruined. Certainly my postage stamps are now a block, so if you can please send some more my way, please do so. Take the money from my funds that I have sent you for keeping. My ruining my stamps should not be your burden.

I hope to visit Fort McHenry on our way out of here, it is hard by just the other side of Baltimore harbor. You know well that it is the place the British pounded in the war of 1812, and where Francis Scott Key viewed our honored flag, and wrote the Star Spangled Banner. It is now a prison camp. Will send news of my visit if I am successful.

Your humble servant,

E-Mail Us for More Information!
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.

Back to 2006 Archive

BACK to the 8CV Home Page.