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In Their Own Words

July 28, 1861

Georgia Soldier Wrote Home about First Manassas

From Manassas, Va., W.B.C. Coker wrote to his brother back in Georgia about the Confederate victory at the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run):

“There never have [sic] been such a fight on the green earth as the one four miles from this place one week ago today! The enemy was completely routed in every sense of the word. Nevertheless we were whipped from 1 o’clock ‘till 4, but did not know it. We had but 10,000 men engaged against 40,000 on the other side. The 8th Georgia Regiment held in check 10,000 of the enemy for four hours until reinforcements was forced [force marched] eight miles… .

“I have not been out to the battlefield, but several of our men have and from all accounts it is a very horrible sight. No set of heathens in the world was ever guilty of such acts. They never did come back to bury the first one of their dead… . We have about 75 commission [Union] officers in prison. We also got 30,000 handcuffs which they intended to put on us and take us to Washington. Poor deluded fools! The battleground lasted eight miles and the men is strewn from one end to the other. Plenty of the Yankees was lying on the field Thursday. Some of them was [sic] not dead then, but plenty of them had live things in their wounds. I have seen lots of the Yankees going down to Richmond under guard and lots of men with one leg and one arm. We had to take all the wounded Yankees we could and have their wounds dressed and provide for them as best we could.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 39-40.