Sunday, March 30, 2014

The First Battle of Bull Run, 1861: An Eyewitness Account

Dear Readers,

Because they post letters from people who were actually there, I really enjoy a website called EyeWitness to History.

Below you will find a letter that is interesting in that it gives a great account of what took place from the eyes of a Corporal in Company D of the Second Rhode Island Volunteers.

The writer expresses what he went through, what he saw take place, and also what he thought was taking place around him.

The reason I preface this is because some of the numbers regarding troop strengths which the writer put to paper may have been inaccurate. But frankly, how could he have known that?

In the heat, the smoke, and the confusion which was the First Battle of Bull Run, the young Corporal did what he did to do his duty while trying to stay alive. And yes, that is evident in this eyewitness account.

The First Battle of Bull Run, 1861

Just a few months after the start of the war at Fort Sumter, the Northern public clamored for a march against the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

Newspapers and many Northern politicians expected to the battle at Bull Run to bring an early end to the rebellion.

The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas by Confederate forces, and was fought on July 21, 1861, in Prince William County, Virginia, near the city of Manassas, not far from Washington.

Each side's troops was poorly trained, but Northern troops were at a disadvantage because of poor leadership from the start of the war.

It was the first major land battle of the Civil War.

In July of 1861, Northern newspapers were pressuring President Lincoln to bring a quick end to the rebellion of the Southern states.

Adding to his problems, Lincoln was very conscious that the 90 day enlistments of the recruits who had responded to his call to arms after the attack on Fort Sumter were rapidly coming to an end.

Lincoln was pressed for action. So in spite of his hesitancy that his troops were not yet adequately trained, he had General Irvin McDowell propose a plan.

McDowell was an administrator who was promoted to Brigadier General in the United States Army on May 14, 1861. He was almost immediately given command of the Army of Northeastern Virginia, despite never having commanded troops in combat.

The promotion was partly because of the influence of his mentor, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. Yes, even back then there were politics when it came to promotions!

Although McDowell knew that his troops were inexperienced and not ready -- and yes, he is known to have protested letting people know that he was a supply officer, and not a field commander -- he gave in to pressure from the Washington politicians who forced him to launch a premature offensive against Confederate forces in Northern Virginia.

He would march his army of 35,000, currently bivouacked around Washington, 30 miles south and attack the Confederate forces defending the vital railroad junction at Manassas, Virginia.

It was believed that victory there would open the way to the Confederate capital at Richmond.

The Union troops were indeed inadequately trained. Believe it or not, it took over two days for them to march 22 miles south.

It is said that the summer heat was oppressive. And yes, it is also said that many of the young soldiers wandered from the line of march wander off to go pick berries and rest.

The Union Army finally reached its objective on the evening of July 18 and encamped along a small stream known as Bull Run.

The green troops needed rest and their stocks of food and ammunition that had been discarded along the road had to be replenished.

Yes, infantry troops afoot on a long march "lightening their packs" to make the march easier. It is nothing new in history of warfare.

Some accounts say that most could find a battle by simply following the trail of discarded packs and supplies -- and yes, in those days, dead horses.

The Confederate spy network had forewarned them of the Union intentions allowing reinforcements to be moved from the Shenandoah Valley to Manassas.

And yes, even the public was aware of the Union's plans. So much so that on the day of the battle, carriages filled with spectators eager to see the Confederate defeat flocked to the battle site.

I read where one historian said, "Despite these disadvantages, the North almost won the day."

But frankly, "almosts" mean nothing in war.

During the early morning hours of Sunday July 21 the Union troops charged across the stream in front of them and pushed the Confederates into a defensive position atop a hill.

Confusion reigned on both sides as the battle see-sawed throughout the day. Emboldened by the arrival of reinforcements and by the first use of the blood-curtailing Rebel Yell, the Confederates charged forth in the late afternoon.

The Union line melted away. Retreat quickly transformed into mindless rout as the Northern troops rushed back to Washington.

It was a decisive Southern victory. However, sheer exhaustion prevented the Confederates from pursuing the fleeing enemy and capitalizing on their triumph.

"...the stampede became even more frightful"

Samuel J. English was a Corporal in Company D of the Second Rhode Island Volunteers.

Shortly after the battle he wrote his mother a letter describing his experience. We join his story in the early morning hours before the battle:

"Sunday, the 21st about 2 o'clock the drums beat the assembly, and in ten minutes we were on our march for Bull Run having heard the enemy were waiting to receive us, our troops then numbering 25 or 30 thousand which were divided into three columns ours under Col Hunter taking the right through a thick woods.

About eleven o'clock as our pickets were advancing through the woods a volley was poured in upon them from behind a fence thickly covered with brush; the pickets after returning the shots returned to our regiment and we advanced double quick time yelling like so many devils.

On our arrival into the open field I saw I should judge three or four thousand rebels retreating for a dense woods, firing as they retreated, while from another part of the woods a perfect hail storm of bullets, round shot and shell was poured upon us, tearing through our ranks and scattering death and confusion everywhere; but with a yell and a roar we charged upon them driving them again into the woods with fearful loss.

In the mean time our battery came up to our support and commenced hurling destruction among the rebels.

Next, orders were given for us to fall back and protect our battery as the enemy were charging upon it from another quarter, and then we saw with dismay that the second R. I. regiment were the only troops in the fight; the others having lagged so far behind that we had to stand the fight alone for 30 minutes; 1100 against 7 or 8 thousand.

It was afterwards ascertained from a prisoner that the rebels thought we numbered 20 or 30 thousand from the noise made by us while making the charge.

While preparing to make our final effort to keep our battery out of their hands, the 1st R.I. regiment then came filing over the fence and poured a volley out to them that drove them under cover again; they were followed by the New York 71st and the Hampshire 2nd regiments, with 2,000 regulars bringing up the rear who pitched into the "Sechers" (Secessionists) most beautifully.

Our regiments were then ordered off the field and formed a line for a support to rally on in case the rebels over powered our troops.

When the line had formed again I started off for the scene of action to see how the fight was progressing.

As I emerged from the woods I saw a bomb shell strike a man in the breast and literally tear him to pieces.

I passed the farm house which had been appropriated for a hospital and the groans of the wounded and dying were horrible.

I then descended the hill to the woods which had been occupied by the rebels at the place where the Elsworth zouaves made their charge; the bodies of the dead and dying were actually three and four deep, while in the woods where the desperate struggle had taken place between the U.S. Marines and the Louisiana zouaves, the trees were spattered with blood and the ground strewn with dead bodies.

The shots flying pretty lively round me I thought best to join my regiment; as I gained the top of the hill I heard the shot and shell of our batteries had given out, not having but 130 shots for each gun during the whole engagement.

As we had nothing but infantry to fight against their batteries, the command was given to retreat; our cavalry not being of much use, because the rebels would not come out of the woods.

The R.I. regiments, the New York 71st and the New Hampshire 2nd were drawn into a line to cover the retreat, but an officer galloped wildly into the column crying the enemy is upon us, and off they started like a flock of sheep every man for himself and the devil take the hindermost; while the rebels' shot and shell fell like rain among our exhausted troops.

As we gained the cover of the woods the stampede became even more frightful, for the baggage wagons and ambulances became entangled with the artillery and rendered the scene even more dreadful than the battle, while the plunging of the horses broke the lines of our infantry, and prevented any successful formation out of the question.

The rebels being so badly cut up supposed we had gone beyond the woods to form for a fresh attack and shelled the woods for full two hours, supposing we were there, thus saving the greater part of our forces, for if they had begun an immediate attack, nothing in heaven's name could have saved us.

As we neared the bridge the rebels opened a very destructive fire upon us, mowing down our men like grass, and caused even greater confusion than before.

Our artillery and baggage wagons became fouled with each other, completely blocking the bridge, while the bomb shells bursting on the bridge made it "rather unhealthy" to be around.

As I crossed on my hands and knees, Capt. Smith who was crossing by my side at the same time was struck by a round shot at the same time and completely cut in two.

After I crossed I started up the hill as fast my legs could carry and passed through Centreville and continued on to Fairfax where we arrived about 10 o'clock halting about 15 minutes, then kept on to Washington where we arrived about 2 o'clock Monday noon more dead than alive, having been on our feet 36 hours without a mouthful to eat, and traveled a distance of 60 miles without twenty minutes halt.

The last five miles of that march was perfect misery, none of us having scarcely strength to put one foot before the other, but I tell you the cheers we rec'd going through the streets of Washington seemed to put new life into the men for they rallied and marched to our camps and every man dropped on the ground and in one moment the greater part of them were asleep. Our loss is estimated at 1,000, but I think it greater, the rebels lost from three to five thousand."

-- end of article.

Editor's Note

The above letter has been reprinted completely unedited.

Tom Correa

Friday, March 28, 2014

High Sierra Drifters - Monthly Match Stages - April 2014

Good Morning Friends,

Someone wrote asking what takes place at the Cowboy Action Shooting monthly matches at the club that I shoot with?

Well since I enjoy Cowboy Action Shooting, I figured I'd tell you a little about it and give you folks an idea of what goes on by showing you how we shoot each stage (or round) during the match.

For me, the competition means very little simply because it is a timed event and I am the second slowest shooter in the West.

Fact is, I'm in Cowboy Action Shooting simply because it's just a lot of good clean fun while shooting with a good bunch of friends.

The club that I shoot with is the High Sierra Drifters. We are just a small club compared to most others, we only have a handful of guys, but a bunch of better guys you'd have a hard time finding. 

I know when most folks from other places think about California, they envision LA or San Francisco, big cities, liberal loons, crazy environmentalist, and maybe Bay Watch.

Most people don't normally imagine places like Glencoe or Railroad Flat with small populations of just a few hundred folks here in California.

While most other Cowboy Action Shooting clubs are located at modern shooting ranges, we shoot in the woods.

Yes, across the meadow where a herd of buffalo graze is a wooded clump of trees where the old Petticoat Mine once stood - and that's where we shoot. Railroad Flat is about five miles from where I live here in Glencoe. So yes, unlike some who have to do some real driving, getting there is easy for me.

If the weather is good, and the road getting in and out is not too muddy, then I can't see why we can't shoot our regular scheduled monthly match on the second Sunday of the month in a few weeks.

Knowing how little water we've gotten this year, April 13th will probably be clear and dry. 

To help with the preparation and general organization of our match, below are listed the stages that we will be shooting:

STAGE 1 - High Sierra Sweep
STAGE 2 - Double Tap Sweep 
STAGE 3 - Hangtown Sweep
STAGE 4 - Continuous Sweep
STAGE 5 - Four Target Badger Sweep
STAGE 6 - Four Target Progressive Sweep

Check it out, and ask yourself if it doesn't look like fun.





Paniolo Cowboy
SASS Badge 75875

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Its Time To Disband The EPA

Dear Readers,

Just for the record, I was in High School when the Environmental Protection Agency was created.

The year was 1970 and President Richard Nixon, yes a Republican, decided that places like New York's Hudson River was worse than a septic tank.

I first noticed the EPA getting out of hand in the late 1970s. I was involved in industrial security and found that the EPA was already closing down businesses for being what was termed "non-compliant."

Later I found out that they had a lot of power and they were not hesitant on using it.

As for pushing such a radical environmentalist agenda, I believe it was during the Clinton years that the EPA would start violating the Constitutional Rights of Americans in some way or another.

Of course, there are those who will remind us of the years which the EPA has provided valuable service by requiring polluters to clean up their mess.

But frankly, at what expense -- our freedom? Let's be honest here, they have grown way too powerful and out of control.

Besides this agency turning everyday life into a federal crime, they can now take your property and rights with no stopping them.

Typical of any organization with with too much power, the EPA has become our Enemy

On  March 25th, a headline read "EPA clean water rule could extend agency’s reach over private property"

The report noted that an Environmental Protection Agency draft proposal could end up allowing the agency to regulate bodies of water, no matter how small, located on private property.

The proposal is intended to clarify the EPA's regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.

While the EPA argues that the rulemaking is necessary to clear up uncertainties left in the wake of two Supreme Court rulings, Republicans argue that the agency's action could amount to one of the biggest private property grabs in U.S. history.

"The 'waters of the U.S.' rule may be one of the most significant private property grabs in U.S. history," said Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter.

"Today’s rule also shows EPA picking and choosing the science they use. Peer review of the Agency’s connectivity report is far from complete, and yet they want to take another step toward outright permitting authority over virtually any wet area in the country, while at the same time providing a new tool for environmental groups to sue private property owners."

The EPA's draft rule defines "waters of the United States" as "traditional navigable waters; interstate waters, including interstate wetlands; the territorial seas; impoundments of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, including interstate wetlands, the territorial seas, and tributaries, as defined, of such waters; tributaries, as defined, of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters, or the territorial seas; and adjacent waters, including adjacent wetlands."

But the agency also alludes to other bodies of water which could be regulated if they have a "significant nexus" to a "traditional navigable water, interstate water, or the territorial seas."

It is unclear what significant nexus means, but the EPA says it will provide one when the rule is published.

As expected, Environmental Extremists cheered the EPA’s regulatory draft, arguing that such rules were needed to clear up legal uncertainties and provide necessary protections.

But while the EPA says it will prove exemptions for the agriculture industry in its new rule, it will determine on a case by case basis whether or not other bodies of water, possibly those on private property, have a "significant nexus" to regulated water bodies.

Specifically, the EPA cites one previous Supreme Court decision in 2006 which said that even if water is impounded or dammed up it does not mean it is no longer under federal jurisdiction.

"As a matter of policy and law, impoundments do not de-federalize a water, even where there is no longer flow below the impoundment," the EPA states, adding that tributaries will get similar treatment.

The agency says that even tributaries which are man-made could fall under EPA authority, this includes ponds, canals, impoundments and ditches.

No one argues against having clean air and water, but there is concern when the EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy says, "Clean water is essential to every single American, from families who rely on safe places to swim and healthy fish to eat, to farmers who need abundant and reliable sources of water to grow their crops, to hunters and fishermen who depend on healthy waters for recreation and their work, and to businesses that need a steady supply of water for operations" -- yet stifle businesses and seize private property.

And really, just how does the EPA justify regulating water bodies, including man-made ones, that are no longer connected to navigable waterways or other traditionally regulated bodies of water?

"As expected, the EPA's proposed water rule expands the agency’s control over natural and man-made streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands," said Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith.

He goes on to say, "If approved, this rule could allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States. In preparing this proposal, the EPA failed to incorporate adequate peer-reviewed science in accordance with the agency’s own statutory obligations.

This could be the largest expansion ever of EPA’s authority to regulate private property."

House Republicans wrote to the White House last year. "The proposed rule could give the EPA unprecedented power over private property in the U.S.

Racing through the approval process without proper peer review and transparency amounts to an EPA power play to regulate America’s waterways. Such unrestrained federal intrusion poses a serious threat to private property rights, state sovereignty and economic growth."

Congress and U.S. laws mean nothing to the EPA

On March 19th, it was reported that the EPA releasing thousands of pages of records to Democrat Party operatives.

Yes, that is a violation of the law!

The EPA released thousands of pages of records to Democrat researchers, as they hunt for dirt on Republicans ahead of the mid-term elections.

A government agency being used as a political weapon against another political party?

No, it's not just the IRS any more. Now there is proof that it's also the EPA.

The EPA attacks on private citizens!

Unbridled  power is a dangerous thing, and the EPA has it!

A report on March 15th, notes that the EPA wants to slap a $75,000-a-day fine on a landowner who built a "stock pond" on own property

This isn't some big corporate polluter, this is a blue-collar family who owns their own property and built their own stock pond.

The EPA has gone crazy with power and now even Senators are trying to intervene on behalf of a Wyoming landowner facing $75,000-a-day in Environmental Protection Agency fines for building a stock pond on his own property.

The EPA compliance order against Andrew Johnson of Unita County claims that he violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Johnson says it was a stock pond, which would make it exempt from CWA permitting requirements.

The EPA is demanding that Johnson restore the creek as it was or face penalties. Do it, and do it now, or else!

Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member David Vitter (R-La.), along with Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), wrote the EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner have asked the EPA to back off from intimidating the landowner.

In a letter, they wrote: "Rather than a sober administration of the Clean Water Act, the Compliance Order reads like a draconian edict of a heavy-handed bureaucracy.

The Compliance Order also appears to rest on a broad assertion of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, offering an ominous signal of EPA’s intentions for its current ‘waters of the United States’ rulemaking.

The EPA appears more interested in intimidating and bankrupting Mr. Johnson than it does in working cooperatively with him."

The senators also noted that the severe fines Johnson faces, saying, "Fairness and due process require that EPA base its Compliance Order on more than an assumption. 

Instead of treating Mr. Johnson as guilty until he proves his innocence by demonstrating his entitlement to the Clean Water Act section 404(f)(1)(C) stock pond exemption, EPA should make its case that a dam was built and that the Section 404 exemption does not apply.

As it stands now, EPA’s failure to demonstrate in detail how Mr. Johnson’s building activities constituted the construction of a dam prejudices his opportunity to meaningfully respond to the Compliance Order."

Friends, since its creation in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency has done more harm than good.

EPA regulations cost more than 5 percent of our annual gross domestic product - the equivalent of the costs of Department of Defense and Homeland Security combined.

Since the EPA regulations have expanded, unemployment in America has increased by 33 percent.

This abuse of power by the implementation of regulations infringes upon our basic constitutional rights.  There have been too many reports of individual rights being violated by abusive and power-hungry EPA bureaucrats and their enforcement personnel.

Besided assaulting personal liberty, this agency has hampered landowners' ability to manage their private property as they please and have impaired job creation.

Fact is that the EPA belives they have more rights to private property than does the owners.

Subsequently, Americans are suffering because of the overreach of regulatory agencies such as the EPA.

Another example took place in Pennsylvania.

This story concerns John Pozsgai, an immigrant from Hungary, who worked as a mechanic and eventually saved enough money to purchase the land bordering his home in Morrisville, Pa.

The land was an old auto junkyard, and Mr. Pozsgai, taking pride in his home, proceeded to clean up this landfill by removing 7,000 old tires and rusted-out automobiles.

But, the EPA did not view this effort as a clean-up but rather a violation of the Clean Water Act.

Yes, they use the Clean Water Act like a robber uses a gun!

According to the EPA, Mr. Pozsgai's property was actually a wetland as defined by the EPA as any property that has some sort of connection to a wetland.

That connection to a wetland was a small drainage ditch located on the edge of his property.

Mr. Pozsgai did not need a permit to dump topsoil on an isolated wetland. But, the Army Corps of Engineers insisted he apply for one.

After that, the EPA actually set up surveillance cameras to capture Mr. Pozsgai filling his land with topsoil.

Imagine this for a moment, he was cleaning up an old junkyard and filling it in with clean topsoil and he is under "surveillance" by a government agency!

As insane as that sounds, EPA agents then arrested him for "discharging pollutants into waters of the United States."

Those "pollutants" consisted of "earth, topsoil and sand."

The EPA openly admits that no hazardous wastes were involved in the case, yet Mr. Pozsgai was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison and fined $202,000.

Mr. Pozsgai spent a year and a half in prison, a year and a half in a halfway house, and was under supervised probation for five years.

His family went bankrupt and was unable to pay its property taxes on the land.

This is criminal and no one is doing anything about it!

Think Mr Johnson and Mr Pozsgai are isolated cases? They are not by far.

Another abuse of EPA power is the case of John Rapanos.

Federal officials prosecuted Mr. Rapanos for shoveling dirt around on his property in Bay County, Mich.

That's right! The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers filed charges against Mr. Rapanos for "polluting" the wetlands by leveling the soil on his property.

Under the "migratory molecule" rule, the Army Corps claims that any isolated wetland can fall under federal jurisdiction because there is a speculative possibility that a water molecule from one wetland may reach another navigable waterway.

In Mr. Rapanos' case, the nearest navigable water is roughly 20 miles from his property.

The federal officials had little evidence and U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff threw out the conviction and refused to follow the unjust federal guidelines enforced by the EPA.

Unfortunately, Judge Zatkoff was overruled by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Mr. Rapanos later appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, yet the court refused to hear his case.

He now faces possible jail time.

And how about Mr. and Mrs. Michael Sackett of Priest Lake, Idaho, who are also victims of the EPA's abusive and overbearing practices.

The Sackett family sought to build a house on its half-acre of land, yet after construction broke ground, the EPA interfered, claiming the family violated the Clean Water Act by placing fill materials into "wetlands."

Their property was designated as a wetland, yet their neighbors have built houses on either side of their lot and their lot already has established sewage lines.

Their lot does not harbor a lake, pond or stream, yet the EPA is requiring them to obtain a building permit that would cost more than the value of their land.

The Sacketts proceeded by filing suit, but the request was dismissed by a federal judge. The Supreme Court is now considering these violations.

The Clean Water Restoration Act goes far beyond the original intent of the law which was the protection of waterfowl and the conservation of wetlands.

The repeated abuse of power by the EPA has been noted across the country, infringing on the lives of all Americans.

Property rights were once regarded as fundamental to the protection of liberty, and it is time that legislators restore the value of personal property and do something about government overreach.

Senator Rand Paul is trying to do something. He introduced the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act).

This act is designed to increase accountability in the federal regulatory process by reining in abuse and political agendas.

This legislation would require Congress to approve every major rule proposed by the Executive Branch, and subsequently rein in abuse of agencies which take their orders from radical leftist like President Obama.

By opening the regulatory process to public scrutiny, government agencies will be held accountable by all American citizens.

This is a common-sense reform that will increase congressional liability, improve the regulatory process and protect citizens from restrictions being placed on their economic and private practices.

The REINS Act would ensure that federal agencies cannot destroy jobs, our economy or our way of life by implementing unnecessary regulations. Harmful and abusive regulations must be put to rest.

The problem is that the REINS Act has no chance of passing the Democrat controlled Senate even if it gets through the House of Representatives.

And there is the problem, it seems that nothing can be done on the legislative side to rein in the EPA and other government agencies such as the IRS.

It seems that the only solution is to kill the EPA, disband it, dissolve it, make it go away.

Maybe then we can create a smaller better organized less powerful agency that will put Americans ahead of their allegiance to environmental extremist groups and a power hungry ideology.

Because of such abuse as I listed above, it is no wonder that an estimated 80% of Americans believe that the size of the federal government must be reduced.

There is a huge difference between citizens and subjects, Americans are being treated as regulated subjects of a regulation nation instead of free citizens of a free nation.

The EPA needs to be dissolved now before it harms more Americans who it sees as subjects of the state -- no different than how a government agency acts under a dictatorship.

This report is compiled from many sources.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Protecting Your Livestock From Rustlers

Dear Readers,

Cattle rustling, or livestock stealing, is still a felony no matter where you are and it still takes place more often than most people are aware. In many cases they require a lot of research, several means of identifying ownership including a DNA test, cooperation of the victims, and a list of local law enforcement officials.

Cattle thefts across the nation are not rare, particularly with today’s high cattle prices. This is why it is so important for ranchers to brand and keep count of their cattle -- as well as their other livestock and equipment. It's important to try to keep your livestock safe from potential rustlers, particularly if you are located in an area where cattle rustling is known to occur, or when events such as drought or a natural disaster give rise to crimes of opportunity.

There are several ways to protect your cattle from being stolen. Let's take a look at a few ways to protect your cattle, and other livestock, from rustlers.

Protecting Your Livestock From Rustlers

1) Maintaining Good Records

  • Keep and maintain good records and documents for the livestock you own is the first line of defense when trying to prove that your livestock has been stolen.
  • Ownership documentation. Consider keeping both hard copies and computer generated records so that you have duplicates.
  • Maintaining  good records of the cattle you own is simply good business practice, but it is also your first line of defense when it comes to proving what was stolen is indeed yours.
  • For that reason keep these records in a safe location. The best place to keep health, reproductive, purchase/sale and identification records of your cattle is in your own house or even in a safe.
  • Keep them in a file where only you know where they are, and be sure to keep both hard copies (paper files) and downloaded records on your computer on a separate drive in case one set is lost.
  • Another great source of record, and one that is very hard to dispute, is a photograph. Photographs of your livestock would be a good thing to keep in your computer files along with other documentation.
  • Keeping records of your cattle is a good thing to do, even if you're not at risk of having cattle stolen off you.
  • But, in case you have to go to court against rustlers, well maintained records will serve as proof that those animals are rightfully yours and that they are not mere strays.

2) Branding & Tags
  • Make sure all of your cattle have their tags and/or have been branded with the brand of your farm or ranch. Branding and/or tagging is essential. Brand inspections and tag identification is important for law enforcement when checking livestock being transported.
  • Branding is an age old process and today it is just as important as it ever was to brand your livestock and/or secure ear tags.
  • Cattle without tags tend to be bigger targets for theft than those who have tags or even buttons. Besides being better targets, livestock that are not tagged or branded are an easier target for rustlers to sell off.
  • Cattle that are not branded are fair game for rustler, but even branded cattle are still liable to be stolen.
  • Depending on the type of brand your farm or ranch has, brands can be switched or altered.
There are rustlers who have mastered the skill of switching brands just like rustlers were able to do back in the days of the Old West. But unlike the Old West, in today's world, time is money and realistically a rustler would rather not fool around trying to switch brands. Frankly, he'd rather get in, get the cattle, get out to sell them off as soon as possible. Because of that, brands on the cattle are a form of deterrent.

3) Check Your Livestock

  • Accounting is important. 
  • Check your livestock regularly. 
  • Count and make sure they’re all there. 
  • This ensures that none have been stolen and also helps you monitor their health. 
  • Doing a regular physical count of your animals can be a peace a of mind. 
  • As many times as you normally need to go out to check them, making sure you do a headcount to ensure that they are all there is not that hard or time consuming. 
  • This not only ensures that none have been stolen, it also makes sure that none of your animals have found a way off your property, made a hole in a fence, have decided to make an escape, or if you have a sick or lame animal.

A headcount is also a good way to tell if you have an extra visitor, or two in your herd that are not supposed to be there. Maybe your neighbor's stock crossed a broken fence and made its way into your herd? By returning such animals to neighbors, you build up a trustworthy rapport that will be returned in kind if needed. Besides, it's what neighbors do for each other.

4) Make Your Property Secure

While most of us have our loading chutes at the pens where they are needed, most of our pens are not near our homes.  Because of this our handling facilities, or loading areas, are usually out of sight and hearing.

  • A first step to deter the theft of livestock is to locate loading facilities near our residence and equip gates with heavy-duty locks and or chains.
  • Thieves are less apt to target your ranch if the loading facilities are near an occupied home.
  • Remote loading chutes may be inviting to rustlers if they know that no one will see or hear them out away from where people can hear them.
  • If loading facilities are not located close to our residence to make it difficult to steal without disturbing us, they should be far enough into our land and off the main road that it takes, in the thieves' minds, too much time and hassle to travel to get to them to use.
  • Permanent facilities that are located far away from the road or are quite literally hidden from view of the road tend to discourage most thieves. The opposite is true with loading chutes near a main road.

This is simply because thieves need to be quick about their business, and having to drive a long way into your land can put a bit of a nervous edge on them.
  • Loading chutes hidden out of sight is usually out of the mind of a thieve. Instead of inviting a thieve to use your equipment to load your cattle into a waiting truck on a road, a loading facility without being seen from the road is a deterrent.
  • To be unfriendly to rustlers, handling facilities and load areas must have only a one-way access to and from such facilities or areas. 
If your facilities have more than one way out and in, you will find out fairly quickly that it will be all too easy for rustlers to go in and get out without being noticed by you or your neighbors.
  • It is ideal to have the exit and entry point of that one-way-access to run by your residence that is located on the farm. This is so you can easily and quickly know if someone is coming up your drive way at a time of night when normally no-one would even consider doing such a thing.
  • If you haven't done so already, install a heavy iron livestock gate at the entrance/exit where you or trucks must enter from the road to get to the handling facilities.
  • Your gate must be kept shut and locked at all times, except when you are around to keep an eye out for trouble and when it's needed to ship cattle in or out.
  • Locked gates, especially those with a heavy bolt lock and not just a chain or latch, act as a deterrent to rustlers.
  • They are also a great signal to alert you if a cattle thief did indeed attempt to steal your animals and was desperate enough to break and enter.
  • Make sure all access points to where your cattle are located are secure.  This means making sure the gates, both wire and swinging, are done up properly and securely.
  • As with any rural crime, limited access points allow easier detection by residents, neighbors, or ranch managers.
  • You may also want to consider checking them regularly. 
  • Check locks and chains regularly to make sure they haven’t been tampered.  
  • Also limit who has keys to your property.

5) Make Your Equipment Secure

  • Keep your possessions in a secure area. 
  • You should make sure most of your vehicles, trailers, machinery, and other equipment are locked up in a secure building. This is important because sometimes the thieves may be interested in more than just your cattle.
  • If not in a secure building, park your vehicles, trailers and other mobile equipment in secure areas. 
  • Your trailers should have proper vehicle identification number, license plates and your Owner Applied number on them. 
  • A copy of all of that information should be kept with your other records away from the vehicles.
  • Keep the keys in your house. 
  • Have a duplicate set made and keep that set with someone you trust to keep them safe for you -- especially if you have to be away for several days.
  • Keep keys to these vehicles inside your residence is the right thing to do. 
  • Make sure you separate a vehicle's keys from the vehicle.
  • In numerous vehicle thefts, police report after police report indicate the same sorry fact that most of stolen vehicles had their keys located inside the vehicle when it was stolen.
  • If you have so many keys that you need to set-up a key station, maintain employee use by enforcing responsibility by having employees use a sign-in/out key log. This will help ensure that keys are not left in vehicles.
  • If your employees drive your ranch vehicles make sure that they adhere to this policy.

6) Be Vigilant

  • Be on the lookout for strangers. 
  • Keep vigilant as who is and isn't supposed to be around your neighbor's property.
  • Get up and check your place when your dog starts barking in the middle of the night, a door slam, people talking, you know how sound travel a long way at night in the country.
  • Use this knowledge, and knowing who is and who isn't supposed to be there, or vehicles in the wrong place, as an advantage to help keep an eye out for potential illegal activity.
  • Be vigilant and look for suspicious persons or activities in your area. 
  • Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.
  • This may be a lot harder to do if you live away from your farm. 
  • If you do not live on your ranch or farm, it is suggested you get to know your neighbors and enlist their help in reporting when unknown and/or suspicious people venture on your property.
  • Being a good neighbor means looking out for your neighbor.  
  • A threat to his property and safety is a threat to yours as well.
  • If you are on good terms with your neighbors, as we all should be, then have neighbors help you watch over your farm for you.
  • Let them know or ask them about potentially suspicious activity, such as if they have noticed any strange vehicles slowing down or stopping to look at your animals or farm while you are away, or if they've noticed any strange activity during the night.
  • This is important because besides the activity of suspicious people, we should also be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles in case a strange vehicle is actually a potential rustler casing your livestock and security measures.
  • Many people who live out in the rural areas know the regular traffic that goes by there homes every day. 
  • Suspicions are always aroused if someone is driving more slowly than they should, if they stop by the side of the road for some reason, or suddenly slow down then after a few seconds, then take off again.
  • Signs of suspicious activity should also be accounted for. 
  • If you can, take down a license number. After all, we never can know if it will be used later.
  • Many of us who live in rural areas don't really think twice about dropping in on a friend, and even though that's the case we can all familiarize our self with who is supposed to be around a neighbor's property and who just does not belong there.
  • When gone, even if just overnight, I let my neighbors know when I'm leaving and how long I'll be gone.
  • I also let them know if I have someone coming to feed for me, his name, his description, and what kind of car or truck to he drives and to expect. 
  • I also let them know if I have a House Sitter staying at my place while I'm away.
  • I have even given my neighbor the phone number of where I'll be staying in case of emergency. 
  • Neighbors working together by looking after each other is a great defense against theft, burglary, and vandalism.

7) House Sitters

  • A ranch dog might be useful in discouraging strangers, lights on are also known to keep people away, but nothing can replace the presence of someone there to watch your property while you are gone.
  • In that case, consider enlisting a House Sitter or Ranch Sitter if you are going to be away.
  • If this is not possible let a family member stay at your home while you are gone, but either way let your trusted neighbors know about your absence.

8) Do Not Hesitate To Inform Others 

  • While there are many ways to increase security of your property and family, joining a local/rural watch is one.
  • There are organizations out there which are set-up as a network to get the information of livestock thefts to others in your area.
  • This can give you the benefits of group protection activities, as well as being a source of useful information about keeping your cattle safe.
  • If such a group doesn't exist in your area, consider starting one with the support of other livestock owners.

9) Notify The Sheriff Quickly

  • It is vital that we respond as quick as possible to stop rustlers.
  • It is important to inform the Sheriff’s department if you see any suspicious activity around your home or that of your neighbors.
  • It is important that we do not hesitate when it comes to asking for a Deputy to check the area for any suspicious vehicles and or persons.
  • Reporting immediately if you find your animals have been stolen,  making sure that they have actually been stolen, will get law enforcement to move on the problem.
  • By reporting your theft, you keep the police or sheriff informed of such activity in your area.
  • This is of particular importance if you notice activity within a couple days, especially during the night or even during the day.
  • It is important in another way that is probably unknown to us, in that our report may be the link to other crimes in our area and may be important in finding the rustlers.
  • The sooner that the trail can be followed, the better.
  • Sometimes they will dispatch and officer to take a drive down to that particular area of concern to see what's going on or to even give warning to potential thieves that the police haven't forgotten about that particular corner of the country.
  • Today, many Sheriff departments won't send out a Deputy and instead will advise you to fill out a police report on-line as most departments these days are computerized. If that the case, do so.
  • After that, contact your insurer as well to see what is expected of you by way of more information when you file a claim.
  • Since most of the ranchers in the United States are small and financially dependent on the sale of the stock they have, it is hoped that their herds are insured.
  • If you do need to seek compensation, then you will want to make sure you have done everything to assure this includes submitting a police report.

10) Buy A Gun

  • If you believe it is important for the safety of your property and your family, you may want to consider buying a gun for your safety.
  • Most producers already own a handgun or a rifle, but if you haven't already it may be worthwhile.
  • Thieves really do not like it when an owner of that farm from where they are planning or attempting to steal from has a gun that that owner knows how to use it.
  • You do not need to use the gun to cause injury or worse. Although, it certainly will help you hold criminals in place on the ground until the police can arrive.
  • For me, I have first hand experience when it comes to firing warning shots over the heads of potential thieves to let them know that I was around, armed, and did not appreciate them trying to take what didn't belong to them.
  • One such incident resulted in the thieves running away so fast that they left their truck behind. The police caught up with them later with help from the information in the truck's glove compartment.

Tom Correa

Monday, March 24, 2014

Buffalo Bill entertains a Russian Grand Duke, 1872

Grand Duke Alexis

It was the highlight of his “Grand Tour.”

Twenty-two-year-old Grand Duke Alexis, sixth child of Russian Emperor Alexander II, had arrived in the US the previous November to tour North America.

After calling on President Grant, where he received a cold reception due to a diplomatic dispute regarding a request of the US for Russia to withdraw its ambassador in Washington, the Grand Duke toured the eastern states, took a trip into Canada and then to Chicago.

By mid-January the Grand Duke had made his way to central Nebraska for his much anticipated participation in a buffalo hunt that would take place on his twenty-second birthday.

Buffalo Bill Cody was to be his guide.

The hunting party also included General Philip Sheridan and Colonel George Custer.

"He fired six shots from this weapon at buffaloes only twenty feet away … not one of his bullets took effect."

Buffalo Bill kept a diary of his experience. We join his account as the Grand Duke’s special train pulls into the train station:

"At last, on the morning of the 12th of January, 1872, the Grand Duke and party arrived at North Platte by special train; in charge of a Mr. Francis Thompson.

Captain Hays and myself, with five or six ambulances, fifteen or twenty extra saddle-horses and a company of cavalry under Captain Egan, were at the depot in time to receive them.

Presently General Sheridan and a large, fine-looking young man, whom we at once concluded to be the Grand Duke came out of the cars and approached us.

General Sheridan at once introduced me to the Grand Duke as Buffalo Bill, and said that I was to take charge of him and show him how to kill buffalo.

In less than half an hour the whole party were dashing away towards the south, across the South Platte and towards the Medicine; upon reaching which point we halted for a change of horses and a lunch.

Resuming our ride we reached Camp Alexis in the afternoon.

General Sheridan was well pleased with the arrangements that had been made and was delighted to find that Spotted Tail and his Indians had arrived on time.

They were objects of great curiosity to the Grand Duke, who spent considerable time in looking at them, and watching their exhibitions of horsemanship, sham fights, etc.

That evening the Indians gave the grand war dance, which I had arranged for.

General Custer, who was one of the hunting party, carried on a mild flirtation with one of Spotted Tail's daughters, who had accompanied her father thither, and it was noticed also that the Duke Alexis paid considerable attention to another handsome reddskin maiden.

The night passed pleasantly, and all retired with great expectations of having a most enjoyable and successful buffalo hunt.

The Duke Alexis asked me a great many questions as to how we shot buffaloes, and what kind of a gun or pistol we used, and if he was going tomve a good horse.

I told him that he was to have my celebrated buffalo horse Buckskin Joe, and when we went into a buffalo herd all he would have to do was to sit on the horse's back and fire away.

At nine o'clock next morning we were all in our saddles, and in a few minutes were galloping over the prairies in search of a buffalo herd.

We had not gone far before we observed a herd some distance ahead of us crossing our way; after that we proceeded cautiously, so as to keep out of sight until we were ready to make a charge.

Of course the main thing was to give Alexis the first chance and the best shot at the buffaloes, and when all was in readiness we dashed over a little knoll that had hidden us from view, and in a few minutes we were among them.

Alexis at first preferred to use his pistol instead of a gun.

He fired six shots from this weapon at buffaloes only twenty feet away from him, but as he shot wildly, not one of his bullets took effect.

Riding up to his side and seeing that his weapon was empty, I exchanged pistols with him. He again fired six shots, without dropping a buffalo.

Seeing that the animals were bound to make their escape without his killing one of them, unless he had a better weapon, I rode up to him, gave him my old reliable 'Lucretia,' and told him to urge his horse close to the buffaloes, and I would then give him the word when to shoot.

At the same time I gave old Buckskin Joe a blow with my whip, and with a few jumps the horse carried the Grand Duke to within about ten feet of a big buffalo bull.

'Now is your time,' said I. He fired, and down went the buffalo.

The Grand Duke stopped his horse, dropped his gun on the ground, and commenced waving his hat.

When his suite came galloping up, he began talking to them in a tongue which I could not understand.

Presently General Sheridan joined the group, and the ambulances were brought up.

Very soon the corks began to fly from the champagne bottles, in honor of the Grand Duke Alexis, who had killed the first buffalo."

-- end of article.

Editor's Note:

The article above is reprinted completely unedited.

This eyewitness account appears in: Cody, William F. The Life of Buffalo Bill (1977)

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Horrible Fate of Union Major Sullivan Ballou, 1861

Dear Readers,

After watching Ken Burns' Civil War series again, I'm again struck by the letter that Union Major Sullivan Ballou wrote to his wife before he was to go into battle.

In his letter to his wife, Major Ballou attempted to express his longings, worry, fear, guilt, sadness, and most importantly the inner battle he was going through between his love for her and his sense of duty to the country.

The letter was featured prominently in the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War, where it was paired with Jay Ungar's musical piece "Ashokan Farewell" and read by Paul Roebling.

Where the documentary featured a shortened version of the letter, which did not contain many of Ballou's personal references to his family and his upbringing. The following is an extended version:

July 14, 1861.

Camp Clark, Washington

My Very Dear Sarah,

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days — perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more. Our movements may be of a few days duration and full of pleasure — and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me.

Not my will, but thine, O God be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battle field for my Country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter.

I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing — perfectly willing — to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this Government and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys, I lay down nearly all of your's, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows, when after having eaten for long years the bitter fruits of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children, is it weak or dishonorable, that while the banner of my forefathers floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, underneath my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children should struggle in fierce, though useless contest with my love of Country.

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm Summer Sabbath night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying perhaps the last sleep before that of death while I am suspicious that Death is creeping around me with his fatal dart, as I sit communing with God, my Country and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently and often in my heart for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I love, and I could find none. A pure love of my Country and of the principles I have so often advocated before the people — 'the name of honor, that I love more than I fear death,' has called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables, that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind, and bears me irresistibly on with all those chains, to the battle field.

The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you, come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and you that I have enjoyed them so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our boys grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me — perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears, every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortunes of this world to shield you, and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the Spirit-land and hover near you, while you buffit the storm, with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience, till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! if the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladest days and the darkest nights, advised to your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours, always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, or the cool air cools your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys — they will grow up as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long — and my blue eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters, and feel that God will bless you in your holy work.

Tell my two Mothers I call God's blessings upon them new. O! Sarah I wait for you there; come to me, and lead thither my children.


Now for the rest of the horrible story ...

The Attrocities of War

As most of us who have watched the Ken Burns' Civil War series on PBS, Major Sullivan Ballou had become famous over 130 years after his death for the touching heartfelt letter he wrote to his wife, Sarah, just a few days before he was to be killed at the First Battle of Bull Run.

The First Battle of Bull Run, also know as First Manasses, was the Civil War's first major battle between the North and the South.

What took place to the Major and others who died there was not mentioned in the Ken Burns film, and probably for good reason.

Major Sullivan Ballou was born on March 28thm 1829 in Smithfield, Rhode Island, to Hiram and Emeline Bowen Ballou.

His formal education was at the Phillips Academy of Andover, Massachusetts, and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduating from Brown University, Sullivan Ballou taught "Elocution" at the National Law School in Ballston, New York.

While there, he also studied law and was admitted to the bar in Rhode Island in 1853. He served as a clerk of the Rhode Island House of Representatives for three years, then became a member of the House and was unanimously chosen speaker in 1857.

Like many Northerners dissatisfied with the Whig and Democratic parties, he joined the new Republican Party when it was formed in the late 1850s.

Through that affiliation, he soon became closely acquainted with Governor Sprague, a wealthy mill owner who became Rhode Island's governor in 1860. Sprague was 29 years of age and the youngest state governor in the United States when he was elected.

With the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861, like many other northern states, Rhode Island began to raise regiments for duty with the Union.

Rhode Island played an important role in the Civil War despite its small size. It sent eight regiments of infantry, four regiments of artillery and three regiments of cavalry to the front, in addition to several smaller units. 

On June 5th, 1861, the 2nd Rhode Island was formed and mustered into service in Providence. It was commanded by Col. John Slocum. Sprague had appointed him Colonel because Slocum had formerly served as a Major with the 1st Rhode Island.

Due to his close ties to Governor Sprague, Sullivan Ballou received a commission as a Major with the 2nd Rhode Island.

The unit was immediately sent to protect Washington.

Arriving in the nation's capital on June 22nd, the 2nd was incorporated into Colonel Ambrose Burnside's brigade.

In July 1861 the northern newspapers pressured President Lincoln to bring a quick end to the rebellion of the southern states.

Adding to the strain was Lincoln's awareness that the ninety-day enlistments of the recruits who had responded to his call to arms after the attack on Fort Sumter were rapidly coming to an end.

Something had to be done, and soon, and President Lincoln was being pressed to take action.

Despite his hesitancy that the Union's troops were not yet adequately trained, General Irvin McDowell proposed a plan.

He would march his army of 35,000, currently bivouacked around Washington, thirty miles south and attack the Confederate forces defending the vital railroad junction at Manassas, Virginia.

A "quick" victory would open the way to the Confederate capital at Richmond.

By late July of 1861, the 1st Rhode Island was one of the dozens of regiments which moved out of the capital as part of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell's army -- and headed for the Confederate lines along Bull Run.

McDowell's plan of attack was for a portion of his forces to show themselves as a distraction to the Confederate front, while the main body of his Union attack column swung far to the right.

The premise was for the Union forces to use the narrow paths through woods and fields, cross Bull Run and Catharpin Run at Sudley Ford. and then move around behind the Southerner's left flank.

Gen. Burnside's brigade was combined with that of Colonel Andrew Porter to create a small division led by Colonel David Hunter that was selected to be in the flanking movement.

On June 21st, Gen. Burnside's soldiers led the way, with the 2nd Rhode Island first in line and then followed by the 1st Rhode Island.

Believe it or not, as crazy as it sounds, many people from Washington arrived at Bull Run and took positions as "spectators."

Governor Sprague accompanied the regiments, riding on a white horse beside Gen. Burnside, determined not to miss their moment of glory when they "teach" the South a lesson.

At least they thought so!

The Union troops slugged along as they moved into position because the Confederates had felled trees to block the road, which in many places was just a simple cow path that became chock-full of exhausted Yankees.

Finally, around 9 a.m., way behind schedule, Gen. Burnside's regiments started across both streams and headed south on the Manassas-Sudley Road.

And yes, those tired and sweaty Union foot troops took up even more time as they filled their thirsts in the muddy waters.

Five companies of the 2nd Rhode Island made the advance, and immediately spread out as skirmishers on both sides of the road.

To the left the land rose to form high ground, locally called Matthews Hill, and the Matthews house stood on its slopes.

While the skirmishers cautiously moved toward the summit, they received their first hostile shots in the form of a volley delivered by elements of Brig. Gen. Nathan Evans' South Carolina brigade.

Hearing reports of shots, assuming his men were engaging the Southerners and not the other way around, Gen. Burnside quickly shifted his men to the left of the road to meet anf resistance.

The balance of the 2nd Rhode Island formed in a battle line and were ordered up the hill behind the skirmishers.

Governor Sprague's soldiers shucked off their packs and blankets and ran forward, rushing "wildly and impetuously" and getting "rather mixed up," admitted Private Eben Gordon.
The disorganized but enthusiastic Rhode Islanders reached the crest of the hill recently abandoned by Gen. Evans' outnumbered skirmish line.

The Carolinians, however, had not given up the field. Instead they had only fallen back down the southern slope of the hill, and they greeted the Rhode Islanders with voleys of fire.

One private in the 2nd remembered it as a "perfect hail storm of bullets, scattering death and confusion everywhere."

With his advance stalled, Gen. Burnside ordered up Captain William Reynolds' artillery battery. Once Reynold's artillery moved to the summit of Matthews Hill, they began concentrating their fire on southern positions.

Colonel Slocum had been very active during the attack. It's said that what he lacked in experience, he certainly made up for with courage and leadership.

At one point, Col. Slocum is believed to have climbed atop a rail fence that ran across Matthews Hill and began waving his sword to encourage his men forward.

He was soon downed when he was shot in the head.

Privates Elisha Hunt Rhodes and Thomas Parker carried him off the field to the Matthews house, and then the Colonel was evacuated by ambulance to the field hospital at Sudley Church, which was located near Sudley Ford.

Command of the regiment fell to Lt. Col. Frank Wheaton, and he helped Major Ballou to shift their line while Gen. Burnside was busy getting the balance of his brigade — the 1st Rhode Island, the 71st New York, and the 2nd New Hampshire — to come up and into the battle.

In order to better direct his men, it is said that Major Ballou rode his horse 'Jennie' in front of his regiment to encourage his men on. Like Col Slocum, this would lead to his death.

With his back to the Confederates, it's said that a 6-pounder artillery ball, probably fired by a gun of the South's Lynchburg Artillery, tore off his right leg and killing his horse instantly.

The stricken Major Ballou was then also carried to Sudley Church, where they amputated his leg before setting him aside with a dying Col. Slocum.

The 1st Rhode Island was the initial regiment to reach the line, arriving after the 2nd and Reynolds' Battery had held off the Rebels for a half hour.

Eventually, the rest of the brigade came up, and Gen. Burnside led it in a push that cleared the Rebels from the area north of the Warrenton Turnpike by about noon.

The morning's fight had gone to the Union, but that afternoon the battle took a different course as a Confederate counterattack put the Union troops and spectators running back to Washington.

Late in the afternoon, Confederate reinforcements extended and broke the Union right flank.

Emboldened by the arrival of reinforcements and by the first use of the blood-curtailing Rebel Yell, the Confederates charged forth in the late afternoon.

The Union line didn't hold and retreat quickly transformed into mindless head-long dash back to Washington with Union troops discarding much of their equipment along the way.

The Federal retreat rapidly deteriorated into a complete rout. And yes, it was there that Thomas J. Jackson earned the nom de guerre "Stonewall."

As the Confederate lines began to crumble under heavy Union assault, Jackson's brigade provided crucial reinforcements on Henry House Hill, demonstrating the discipline he instilled in his men.

Confederate Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr., exhorted his own troops to re-form by shouting, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!"

At the battle's climax, Virginia cavalry under Colonel James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart arrived on the field and immediately charged into a confused mass of New Yorkers, sending them fleetly to the rear. 

The Federal retreat rapidly deteriorated as narrow bridges, overturned wagons, and heavy artillery fire added to the confusion. The retreat was further impeded by the hordes of fleeing spectators.

By July 22, the shattered Union Army finally reached the safety of Washington.

The First Battle of Bull Run ended as a Southern victory. The South would call it the First Manasses.

The 2nd Rhode Island took little part in the afternoon battle, instead it remained in "reserve" licking its wounds with Gen. Burnside's brigade.

The regiment had suffered heavily: 93 of its men were killed, wounded and missing. Sprague survived the fight unharmed but his horse was killed.

Ballou and Slocum, too badly wounded to move during the Federal retreat, were left behind in the care of Union Army surgeons who amputated Ballou's shattered leg.

Both men died, Col. Slocum on July 23 and Major Ballou days later on the 28th. They were buried side by side just yards from Sudley Church.

In early March 1862, word reached Washington that the Confederates were abandoning their lines around Manassas in a move to better protect Richmond from the Army of the Potomac's advance.

Union troops soon occupied the area.

So where's the body?

Union Major Sullivan Ballou was a member of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, but his remains were nowhere to be found.

Governor Sprague discovered that Major Ballou's remains had been exhumed and desecrated by Confederate soldiers soon after the battle.

This fact actually initiated a Congressional investigation. And yes, some say the findings still remain a controversy and a mystery since the facts were too hard to accept for the times.

It appears that Major Ballou's close friend Rhode Island Governor William Sprague witnessed the opening of the Major's grave and is said to have stared into the empty grave with a mixture of shock and horror.

The Rhode Island governor and a party of 70 others had departed Washington City that March 19, 1862, morning for the Bull Run battlefield, with the intent of retrieving the bodies of several 2nd Rhode Island officers who were left behind.

Remember, this was a recovery mission.

Privates Josiah W. Richardson, John Clark and Tristam Burgess of the 2nd assisted in the effort; they had also stayed behind at Sudley Church after the battle and had witnessed the burial of both Major Ballou and Col Slocum.

Troops from the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry escorted the mission, and a surgeon, chaplain and two wagons filled with forage, rations and empty coffins rounded out the column.

Because of muddy roads and driving rains, the group made slow progress and finally arrived at Cub Run on the eastern edge of the Bull Run battlefield on the afternoon of March 20th.

That was the known location where Captain Samuel James Smith of the 2nd Rhode Island had been killed during the retreat. Yet, by nightfall, the group had not found Smith's grave along either sides of the creek.

Disappointed at the failure to find Smith's resting place, the party begin the search for other graves.

Riding along the Warrenton Turnpike during stormy weather on the morning of March 21st, the column arrived at Bull Run to discover that the stone bridge had been blown up by the withdrawing Confederates.

Near it though, the group examined a skeleton that was just sitting against a nearby tree.

They rode north and forded Bull Run and Catharpin Run, then they continued on to Sudley Church.

Now abandoned and polluted with severed remains left behind, the church stood with its door open.

It's said that curious soldiers stopped to investigate the structure, a few even rode their horses inside and up to the pulpit.

Sprague instructed Private Richardson to lead them to the spot near the churchyard where the Rhode Islander troops were buried.

Richardson did so, pointing out two mounds that he claimed were where Colonel Slocum and Major Ballou had been buried.

Soldiers began to dig amid the thickets of huckleberry bushes, the still graveyard echoing with the sound of shovels as the men went about their morose task.

Under the direction of Walter Coleman, Governor Sprague's secretary, the assemblage commenced with the exhumation of Slocum and Ballou.

As the story goes, just then a young black girl, full of curiosity, made her way from a nearby cabin to investigate. She approached those digging and inquired if they were looking for "Kunnel Slogun"?

"If so", she said, "they were too late and would not find him."

That was when everything changed from a recovery mission to an investigation into what some have called the first war crime of the Civil War.

The young girl went on to tell a chilling tale too macabre for any of the detachment to believe.

She claimed that a number of men from the 21st Georgia Regiment had robbed the grave several weeks prior to their leaving.

Supposedly the Confederate troops dug up Col. Slocum, then severed his head from his body and burned the mutilated corpse in an attempt the remove the flesh and procure the bones and skull as trophies.

They were to find out later that that was not Col. Slocum, but instead it was Major Ballou

The girl went on to say that the Colonel's coffin had been thrown into the creek -- but later fished out for use in another burial.
Reports said that Governor Sprague was horrified, and immediately demanded to see any sort of evidence that such an atrocity had taken place.

He then accompanied the girl as she led them to a nearby hollow where they found a heap of charred embers along the bank of the creek. The ash was still gray, which meant it wasn't very old.

There they found what appeared to be bones. And yes, upon closer inspection, Surgeon James B. Greeley of the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry identified a human femur, vertebrae and portions of pelvic bones.

Nearby they found a soiled blanket with large tufts of human hair folded inside. And as the group carefully collected whatever evidence they could find, one noticed a white object in the branches of a tree along the creek bank.

A soldier atop a horse is said to have waded into the stream to recover what they would determine was two shirts, one a silk and the other a striped calico, both buttoned at the collar and unbuttoned at the sleeves.

The circumstantial evidence seemed to concur with what the little girl had told them. And yes, the unthinkable became more real when Surgeon Greeley did not locate a human skull or teeth with the other remains.

To add to an already confused, strange situation, Governor Sprague insisted that he recognized both shirts as having belonged to Major Ballou — and not to Slocum.

Private Richardson, who had nursed Ballou in his last moments a week after the battle, concurred with the Governor recognizing the shirts and the Major's.

So now, who did the beheaded body belong to?

Back at the gravesite, the group began to probe for any sort of solid object in the first grave.

The Surgeon suggested running a saber blade deeper into the ground. Soon a saber was handed forward and a soldier thrust it into the soft rain soaked soil.

Driven almost to the hilt, it met with no resistance. The grave was empty.

The same tactic was applied to the other grave, but with different results, as a hard object was soon struck. And immediately a few soldiers began to dig, uncovering a rectangular box buried no more than 3 feet deep.

The box was pulled from the grave, and the lid was pried off to reveal the body of 37-year-old John Slocum, rolled up in a blanket.

Easily identifiable by his distinctive red, bushy mustache, Slocum's remains were surprisingly intact. So now it appeared that the missing body was Major Ballou.

To gather further evidence, Governor Sprague, along with his aide and Lt. Col. Willard Sayles of the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry, went to the homes of nearby residents.

In the process they met a 14-year-old boy who claimed to have witnessed the awful deed, and verified that it was soldiers from the 21st Georgia Infantry who had carried it out.

Supposedly the boy went on to reveal that the troops from Georgia had planned it for several days. He also claimed that the Rebels tried to burn the corpse, but had to prematurely dowse the fire because of the horrible stench it emitted.

A farmer by the name of Newman confirmed the boy's story, then contending that no Virginian would have done such a thing and that those responsible were from a Georgia regiment.

Governor Sprague had also talked to a woman who had nursed the wounded at Sudley Church after the battle. She claimed that she had pleaded with the Georgians to leave the dead at peace.

Unable to persuade them, she had saved a lock of hair cut from Ballou's head, in the hopes that someday someone might come to claim the body.

Colonel Coleman took the lock of hair, and promised that he would return it to Major Ballou's wife.

Why did this happen?

The rationale for such a desecration did not come from the battle.

Historians say that the 8th Georgia Infantry was the only regiment from that state that may have come into contact with the 2nd Rhode Island, and that the 21st Georgia did not arrive at Manassas until after the battle. They were housed in winter quarters in the neighborhood of Sudley Church.

Specualtion is all that anyone can do in something like this. Historians question their motives saying perhaps the Georgia troops saw their actions as an attempt to revenge on the 2nd Rhode Island.

Maybe, while in search of the 2nd's commanding officer Col. Slocum that they uncovered both graves — Slocum in a simple box and Ballou in a coffin.

Then, maybe thinking the commanding officer must be buried in the coffin, they got it wrong and inadvertently mutilated the body of Major Ballou and not Col. Slocum.

Governor Sprague decided to continue on with their original mission and search for the body of Captain Levi Tower, another 2nd Rhode Island officer mortally wounded at the battle.

By candlelight, Private Clark, who had witnessed Tower's burial, led the way.  In the side yard of the bullet-scarred Matthews house Clark located the mass grave in which Tower was buried.

The evening had grown too dark, seventeen men crowded into the Matthews' parlor for the night, the same room to which John Slocum had been carried following his mortal wounding.

With saddles for pillows, the 17 slept by the heat of the fireplace while the rest of the party remained outside, suffering through a drizzly night.

At first light, Sprague and Greeley ventured into a nearby field to investigate the skeletal remains of a horse, which Sprague supposedly recognized as one that had been shot out from under him during the battle.

Meanwhile back at the house, the exhumation of Levi Tower was underway. The mass grave revealed eight bodies, including Tower's.

Strangely, all of the men were found buried face down and barefooted, together with an unexploded shell, considered a blatant sign of disrespect by all present.

The corpses were loaded into the wagons. Slocum's and Tower's remains had been placed in pine coffins, each marked with the appropriate name and date of disinterment.

So according to witness testimony, when Major Ballou's corpse was exhumed, it was decapitated, and desecrated.

His body was never recovered. In place of his body, charred ash and bone believed to be his remains were reburied in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence.

It's true, Major Sullivan Ballou's casket was filled only with charred ash, bone, the blanket that contained his tufts of hair and the two recovered shirts.

On the afternoon of March 28, the bodies of Slocum, Ballou and Tower arrived in New York City.

The 71st New York State Militia escorted the hearses through Manhattan and down Broadway to the Astor House, where the coffins lay in state.

To watch the procession, onlookers crowded windows and balconies, and even the rooftop of Barnum's Museum.

Four days later, on a gray and stormy March 31st, the remains of the three soldiers were reburied in Providence.

Business was suspended, streets were draped in mourning and flags flew at half-mast. A huge military procession of over 34 military units made their way down to Swan Point Cemetery.

There, volleys of musketry were delivered amid the clap of thunder and tolling of bells. The three sons of Rhode Island had finally been properly laid to rest.

Governor Sprague, outraged by what had happened to Major Ballou, addressed the U.S. Congress' Committee on the Conduct of the War on April 1st, 1862.

He reported, in detail, the horrible findings of the expedition.

The committee launched an official inquiry into the matter, with the chief aim of the investigation being to resolve "whether the Indian savages have been employed by the rebels, in their military service, against the Government of the United States, and how such warfare has been conducted by said savages."

Yes, the Indians became the scapegoats. Imagine that.
In accordance with the normal way of looking at things at the time, it was held that no white man would do such a thing.

The theory was that somehow Indians in the employ of the Confederacy committed the deeds. This of course was a frank reflection of white 19th-century Americans.

After all, they surmised, without concrete evidence to prove otherwise, Indians could have done it.

Trying to pin the blame on the Indians in the area didn't work out very well because the story was picked up and sensationalized by Northern newspapers such as The New York Times and the Providence Daily Journal.

Because of the pressure put on the Congressional Committee's investigation of a true accounting of what took place, the investigation unearthed further testimony of grave desecration.
A local Manassas woman, Mrs. Pierce Butler, testified that she had witnessed several instances of unidentified Confederates exhuming bodies with the intention of boiling off the remaining skin and removing the bones as relics.

Mrs. Butler even claimed to have heard one soldier of New Orleans' Washington Artillery boast as he carried off a dug-up skull that he intended to "drink a brandy punch out of it the day he was married."

On April 30th, the committee officially concluded that soldiers of the Confederate Army had indeed performed such actions after the First Battle of Bull Run.

While the actual truth in the case may never be known, it is indisputable that Major Ballou's body was desecrated, and that Confederate soldiers likely did the deed hoping that they were actually abusing the corpse of a Union unit commander.

The 21st Georgia was singled out and blamed, but who knows for sure.

The 2nd Rhode Island honored its dead commander when it constructed one of the forts that protected Washington and named it Fort Slocum.

Today, the location is known as Fort Slocum Park, near Kansas Avenue in the northeast section of the District of Columbia -- and like other places it is probably pretty unlikely that there are even a few who visit the park knowing of the history behind its name.

Many more people, or at least those who saw the Ken Burns Civil War series on PBS televison stations in the 1990s, do know about Major Sullivan Ballou because of the famous letter attributed to him that has been reprinted numerous times.

That the remains of the man who supposedly penned the sad missive were treated in such a crude manner after his death presents an unbelievable irony and symbolizes the tragedy and horror of any war.

Sullivan Ballou died at age 32, leaving behind a wife, Sarah, two children and a letter written to his spouse that would make him famous 130 years later.

The letter may never have been mailed. Fact is, it was found in among Major Ballou's belongings in his trunk after he died.

It was reclaimed and delivered to Major Ballou's widow by Governor Sprague, either after he had traveled to Virginia to reclaim the effects of dead Rhode Island soldiers, or from Camp Sprague in Washington, D.C.

His widow, Sarah, never remarried. She later moved to New Jersey to live with her son, William. She died at age 80 in 1917, and is buried next to her husband as she wanted.

This was compiled from multiple resources.

Tom Correa