Battle of First Bull Run Online Exhibit

Rebels Bayoneting Our Wounded on the Battlefield at Bull Run

Rebel soldiers bayoneting fallen sildiers at the Battle of Bull Run, a black-and-white illustration from Harper's Weekly magazine.

Caption: The Rebels Bayoneting Our Wounded on the Battlefield at Bull Run. See page 522 [for related story].

Source: Illustration from Harper's Weekly, August 17, 1861, page 525; text from page 522.

Bayoneting Our Wounded

On page 524 we illustrate a most disgraceful episode of the Battle of Bull Run, which would be incredible if it were not attested by so many reliable witnesses: we mean the Bayoneting of our Wounded by the Rebel Troops. The following evidence of Surgeon Barnes, given to the reporter of the New York Tribune, is unfortunately too precise and clear to be questioned:

Surgeon Barnes, of the New York Twenty-eighth Volunteers, was in the fight all through, and came out of it in his shirt sleeves, having lost coat, sash, watch, and all his surgical instruments, having been charged on by the Black Horse Cavalry and compelled to leave the field, being driven from under a tree where he had established his temporary quarters, and where he was attending to the wounds of about twenty-five injured men, part of whom were secessionists.

Surgeon Barnes went up to the battle-field in the rear of the attacking column, and, as soon as our men began to fall, he took a position with his assistants under a tree, in a little ravine. The wounded men were brought to him, and he took off his green sash and hung it on the tree to signify that the place was under the charge of a surgeon. The injured men were brought in rapidly, and in fifteen minutes he had under his charge nearly thirty. As fast as possible he attended to their hurts, and in a short time had been compelled to perform a number of capital operations. He amputated four legs, three arms, a hand, and a foot, and attended to a number of minor injuries. By this time the enemy had discovered the place, and the nature of the men in charge, and began to pour in musket-balls, and projectiles from rifled cannon. The place became unsafe for the wounded men, and it was seen to be necessary to remove them. The Surgeon's Assistants and servant had become separated from him, and he had no one to send for ambulances, and was obliged to leave the wounded men and go himself. It was no easy matter to procure ambulances enough, and it was probably thirty minutes before the Surgeon returned with the necessary assistance. When he returned he found that every one of those wounded men had been bayoneted or sabred, and was dead. They were literally cut to pieces.

Other evidence abounds. An officer of the Massachusetts 5th, lying wounded on the field, heard the order given by a rebel officer to "bayonet the sons of ___ of red shirts!" Cannon were on the soldiers who were bearing off the body of Colonel Cameron, and five were killed. The ambulance in which Colonel Wood (New York 14th) was being carried was repeatedly fired at.

Note: Another illustration of this incident appeared in t he New York Illustrated News.

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Last Updated: August 7, 2012