Letter from Caspar Crowninshield to Harriet Sears Crowninshield, 22 October 1861
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Twenty-three-year-old Caspar Crowninshield of the 20th Massachusetts Infantry escaped the disaster at the Battle of Ball's Bluff by swimming across the Potomac River. He found himself in temporary command of the regiment when all the senior officers present had been killed, wounded, or captured. From Camp Benton on 21 October 1861, after the Battle of Ball's Bluff, he wrote that he and his men "awaited the result with much anxiety. We none of us said anything, but I think that all felt, as I did, that we were in a desperate situation." Later in the letter, he admits, "I never saw such a sight and God grant I may never see such another. I was all covered with blood from some one, I suppose who had been shot near me. I felt very faint..."