Nine Miles to the Junction
DESCRIPTION: "The troops from Rhode Island were posted along On the road from Anapolis Station." The 71st Regiment, hungry and tired, passes them and is told it is nine miles to the junction. After six hours, they reach their destination; they will march on if needed
AUTHOR: H. Millard, Co. A., 71st New York Militia? (Source: Williams)
EARLIEST DATE: 1894 (Williams)
KEYWORDS: soldier travel Civilwar
July 21, 1861 - First battle of Bull Run/Manasses fought between the Union army of McDowell and the Confederates under Johnston and Beauregard. (There was a second Bull Run battle a year later,)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Silber-CivilWarFull, pp. 38-40, "Nine Miles to the Junction" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Alfred M. Williams, _Studies in Folk-Song and Popular Poetry_, Houghton Mifflin, 1894, pp. 53-54, "Only Nine Miles to the Junction" (1 text, probably an excerpt)
NOTES: Silber confesses to being unable to determine what event is involved here, but the references to the 71st regiment, Rhode Islanders, "the Junction," and Governor Sprague add up to a pretty clear picture. The 71st is, as Silber suggests, the 71st New York Militia (a three-month regiment, not to be confused with the later 71st New York regiment). This regiment, along with the 2nd New Hampshire, the 1st Rhode Island, and the 2nd Rhode Island, formed Col. Ambrose Burnside's brigade of Colonel David Hunter's division of Irvin McDowell's army that fought at First Bull Run (McDonald, p. 193).
The chronology here is somewhat confusing. Is this song an account of the regiment's march to Bull Run, or of its arrival in McDowell's army? Either is possible.
The mention of Annapolis in the song is somewhat confused, but not inaccurate; the 71st came down from New York by boat, and got off the transports at Annapolis on their way to join McDowell's army (NYReport, vol. I, p. 113). And the regiment did trail the Rhode Islanders for part of the march to Bull Run. What's more, this march is described as unusually long and hot. The regiment then marched to a place the officers called "Annapolis Junction" (NYReport, vol. I, pp. 113-114).
On the other hand, the mention of Governor Sprague is perhaps an argument that the song is about the actual Bull Run campaign, not the arrival in Maryland. "The Junction," therefore, might be Manasses Junction, the town for which the Confederates named the battle. The distances fit fairly well, too. Hunter's division was the lead element of McDowell's turning movement on the Confederate left, which involved a 14 mile flanking march (Boatner, p. 100, plus map). Thus, by the time the Federals were "nine miles [from] the junction," they would have marched quite a distance from their camp.
Governor William Sprague of Rhode Island (1830-1915) was instrumental in raising the Rhode Island troops, and came with them to Washington. He then served as an aid to Colonel Burnside at Bull Run (HTIECivilWar, p. 709). Thus it is perfectly reasonable to see him telling the troops which way to go at a crossroads. He in fact had been over the ground, having participated in a preliminary reconnaissance before the battle (McDonald, p. 34).
The 71st New York was actually lucky; it suffered only 10 killed, 40 wounded, and 12 missing at Bull Run; the other three regiments all suffered more, and the casualties included two of the other three regimental commanders. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.2
- Boatner: Mark M. Boatner III, The Civil War Dictionary, 1959 (there are many editions of this very popular work; mine is a Knopf hardcover)
- HTIECivilWar: Patricia L. Faust, editor, Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War, Harper & Row, 1986 (I use the 1991 Harper Collins edition)
- McDonald, JoAnna M. McDonald, We Shall Meet Again: The First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) July 18-21, 1861, Oxford, 1999
- NYReport: (no author listed), State of New York Annual Report of the Adjutant General 1868, 3 volumes, Charles van Benthuysen & Sons, 1868
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