Kate Masur has an excellent post up at the NYTs Disunion blog on slaves, who were present with the Confederate army at Bull Run.
On the morning of Sunday, July 21, 1861, John Parker and three other men opened fire on Union forces. In the chaos of the Civil War’s first major battle, the group, which was operating a cannon, “couldn’t see the Yankees at all and only fired at random.”
Like so many men on both sides who experienced war for the first time that day, Parker was terrified. “The balls from the Yankee guns fell thick all around,” he later told a reporter. “In one battery a shell burst and killed 20, the rest ran. Thank the Lord! none were killed in our battery. I felt bad all the time, and thought every minute my time would come; I felt so excited that I hardly knew what I was about, and felt worse than dead.”
Read the rest of the NYTs essay here. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the comments section to turn into another forum for the standard emotional attacks and personal pleas that have nothing to do with actual history.