Pvt. David C. Laird

This letter is republished from the Saturday, August 10, 1861 issue of the Hudson Gazette newspaper and provided courtesy of the Hudson Historical Museum.


[The following letter has been handed to us for publication.  We cheerfully give it.  It is written in the right spirit.  Such a soldier is fit to command. – Ep.]

Camp Mansfield, Washington,                                                                                                           July 31st, 1861

Dr. L. C. French, Dear Sir:

I received your letter of the 30th and was glad to hear from you; and, Doctor, I thank you for writing to me and for your excellent advice.  I wish for more, sir.  I am proud of being an American soldier and wish that I may have the opportunity of striking one blow for the Union.  The retreat from Bull’s Run was something unlooked for by the Northern Army, and I think that those lives were lost through the Officers in command.  At the time of the battle, our Regiment was stationed at Fairfax Court House, not being allowed by Col. Wilcox to go into the engagement.  The fighting commenced about 10 o’clock A.M.  We could hear the firing of the cannon very distinctly.  It was then that Captain DeGolyer, in company with the Adjunct General, started for the field.  Shortly after, Lieut. Preston was sent with a message.  The Adjutant returned, having a narrow escape – their clothes being so much like the enemies that they got right in with them.  The Captain was seen last telling the Captain of one of the Artillery Companies where to point his guns, and it is thought that he bravely died and the Lieutenant was not soon, so we cannot form an opinion concerning him, although we think we is a prisoner or killed.

Wm. Moore *, the son of Washington Moore of Medina, was seen last behind a tree, fighting like the d—l. A man that saw him says that he shot two and then, sir, he died, and many a brave man fought and died on that day.  But, sir, while I write, I fear for the Michigan Fourth Regiment – not that I fear of battle, for that I would delight in – but it is said that the Regiment has to be sworn in again, because the Government cannot hold us for three years, and I am afraid that if that is the case, one-half of the Regiment will not take the oath and that would make it bad for us that wish to do so, as we pledged ourselves to do before we left Michigan.  But left the cowards go to —- (sir that word should be in there.)  When I think of my comrades that died on the day of the Battle of Bull’s Run, laying there on that field, unburied to this day, the birds of the air plucking the flesh from their bones, it makes me feel as if the strength of two men was in me to fight and revenge the death of my fellow Soldiers.  I will not return (if my life is spared) until the rebels are dispersed.

Now, Doctor, I want you to say to Samuel and James that it is my wish that they stay at home with father and mother because I think the war will last three years, at least, and if I knew that father and mother were alone, I would be miserable.  Now speak to them, Doctor, if you please, and thereby please me.  If you see father, tell him I am well and send my respects to him.  Doctor, our living is poor and not enough at that; but who would not be a Soldier!

D. Laird

* Private William Moore served with the First Michigan Infantry. Laird was in error when he stated that Moore had died at the battle of First Bull Run, though he was taken as a POW and later exchanged.