Light Guard always has appreciated that blessing, at home and abroad), and had little hard work, but the change to Alexandria
brought a new experience.
Coarse bread, no butter or milk, guard duty, wet feet and work with pick and shovel was fun for only a little while.
The enemy had not been seen, but there was, every day, the possibility that something exciting might happen.
July 16, 1861, the Light Guard was ordered to march with the army toward Richmond
Sunday morning, July 21, they left Centreville
for Bull Run
, and then something did happen.
The opposing forces met. By the middle of the afternoon the Union
troops seemed on the point of victory, but the arrival of Kirby Smith
turned the scale.
The zouaves who were in front broke and retreated in disorder through the Union
lines, closely pursued by the Confederates
All the Union
men did not wear the regulation United States
blue, and many Confederates wore the uniforms of their local organizations.
In the confusion, friend could not be distinguished from foe. Rout was inevitable.
In the retreat, Col. Lawrence
was wounded, but in spite of this and the general panic, the Fifth maintained its formation, and Capt. Hutchins
reports that fully three-fourths of his command marched back to camp in regular order.
' telegram, sent the next morning, allayed the fears of those at home, but the Light Guard was not unscathed.
On the night before the battle, ‘Billy’ Lawrence
, the color-bearer, said to a brother sergeant, ‘We are going into action tomorrow, and as sure as the sun rises, I shall be killed.
I shall not put the brass eagle on the staff, but in my haversack.
That flag is going to the front tomorrow, and whatever happens to me, don't let the rebels get it.’
His presentiment was verified; while carrying the flag in the front line, a bullet pierced his heart.
The flag he so bravely carried was saved from capture, and is a precious treasure, for it bears the stain of his blood.