May 10, 2012

Rebel Atrocities at Bull Run: A Letter from the Pa Reserves

Location: Manassas, VA, USA
"Soldiers' remains unburied on the battle-field of Bull Run" by Andrew J. Russell
(Source: Colgate Library)
Over at Bull Runnings, Harry Smeltzer has started a conversation with Ron Baumgarten of All Quiet Along the Potomac about accounts of rebels' desecrating the remains of Union dead at the Battle of Bull Run.  Specifically, they are wondering about the accounts of the Pennsylvania Reserves who passed through the area in April 1862.  I thought I recalled something about this in my Lancaster correspondence, and it turns out my hunch was here's a quick post with that letter.  A simple Google search of "unburied Bull Run" turns up many results, as well.     

The main soldier-correspondent for the Lancaster Daily Evening Express in the Pennsylvania Reserves was a private in Capt. Easton battery of Pennsylvania Reserves artillery named George McElroy.  His letter dated April 16, 1862, describes a walk over the battlefield and the appalling sights he took in.  The horror he expressed fits in with a pattern of indignation McElroy directed towards Southerners in early 1862 for various reasons such as the vandalized state of one of the Washington family graves (I think Martha Washington at Mount Vernon, but I might be wrong) and especially the lightened skin tones of slaves.

From the April 19, 1862, Daily Evening Express: (alternate link)

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