Letter, 6 August 1861 (Vienna, Virginia)

from William Sidney Mullins to Edgar Welles Charles

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Manuscripts Division Receives a Generous Gift from the Mullins Family

In this letter, William Sidney Mullins vivdly describes the bloodshed at the first battle of Bull Run or Manassas for his friend, E.C. Charles. Edward Mullins Jr. of Columbia, along with more than 30 of William Sidney Mullins' descendants, presented the letter to USC president Andrew Sorensen on March 20th, 2008, during a reception at the Library... Read more

A native of Fayetteville, North Carolina, W.S. Mullins (1824-1878) graduated from the University of North Carolina in the class of 1842. He continued his education at Chapel Hill, earning a Master of Arts degree in 1845, after which he settled in Marion, South Carolina. Constituents of his Pee Dee community elected Mullins to multiple terms, 1852-1866, in the South Carolina House of Representatives. During the Civil War, he served as Adjutant of the Eighth South Carolina Infantry Regiment.

The recipient of this letter, Edgar Welles Charles (1801-1876), was a planter and merchant of Darlington District, S.C. E.W. Charles served as a Representative from Darlington at the Secession Convention.


Images of Mullins' Original Letter of 6 August 1861

Page 1
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Acknowledging the various accounts of the battle reported in the press and in personal correspondence, Mullins prefaces his account with vow to provide Charles with a "brief statement of what I know, & my opinions about what I have heard. There never will be any fair & just statement of the whole battle. No man living ever can make it."
Page 2
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"The balls fell all around us: many within four or five feet of our line, wonderful it was that no one was hurt. Several I assure you fell so close to me that the rushing & hiss seemed to be felt against my cheek. Believe me - it aint a pleasant feeling."
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"Genl. George Evans was in command at Stone Bridge with fourteen hundred men, as he states them: Sloans Reg. Wheats Bat. & some companies: he was drawn up on a high hill near Stone Bridge, expecting the attempt to cross there: with only two pieces of artillery, one of which was disabled before the action began. Fifteen hundred men came up on the other side of the stream at the Bridge and commenced a heavy artillery fire: he forbade his piece to open at all but deployed a few skirmishers on the banks of the stream & waited. For more than an hour it went on thus: heavy artillery playing upon him but without effect, & his line silent & waiting…."
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"Slowly, cautiously & but steadily the enemy drove us back: the field - the dead - the path of the enemy showed this the next day: more than a mile our side had fallen back. Of what occurred during all this time read the papers & judge for yourself. Each Regiment claims all the glory of holding the field: let history decide: judge for yourself. But I resume my own story now."
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"Jeff Davis came upon the field late that day and there gave us the credit of turning the day. He has changed his opinion since, they tell me…"
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"if it please God, to stop this war, I will unfeignedly thank him. It wasnt the battle, but the next day - in a heavy rain their wounded & our wounded - lying in their agony - without food or care - nobody to help - nothing to eat & drink - this filled my heart with terror. I heard men imploring the passers by to kill them to relieve their agony. I saw the parties who were out to bury discussing whether to bury a man before he was dead."
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"there has not been any provision made for the sick & wounded that is even decent."
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"I might say many other things to you of inefficiency & incapacity: of drunkenness, in high places at critical periods: of blunder & ignorance that would disgust you… They our leaders may foolishly fling away many of our lives: our cause will triumph…. Dont let my scribblings get into the papers. You may show them to any discreet friends you choose, but on no account let any word get to a newspaper. Beauregard's orders are stringent & a violation would expose me to trouble & danger. Perhaps you had better not show them at all."


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