Colonel John Stanton Slocum Killed at 2nd Bull Run - 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment - Inventory Number: CDV 485
John S. Slocum was born on November 1st, 1824 in Richmond, RI. After a few weeks of training in Providence, the newly organized 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment was ordered to Camp Sprague in Washington, DC, in June of 1861. As Commander of the Regiment, Colonel John S. Slocum and his blue-uniformed troops left home to fight the Rebels, end the war and preserve the Union. Less than a month had passed since they left Providence, RI, and already they were about to engage the enemy as part of General Irvin McDowell's great 31,000-man army.
It was Sunday morning, 21 July 1861, and McDowell's army was about to fight the first major land battle of the war along a muddy northern Virginia creek called Bull Run. As the Rhode Island troops and the rest of their brigade paused to catch their breath at about 9:30 a.m., an alarm was sounded; the Rebels were in front, in force, and were advancing. Slocum's Regiment, supported by a battery of field artillery, was ordered forward while the brigade formed for battle. Within moments, the men of the 2nd Rhode Island were engaged in the kind of fierce, bloody warfare that few soldiers on either side had expected.
The Rhode Islanders bore the brunt of the enemy assault, but under Colonel Slocum's command they stood firm. As the crescendo of battle intensified, Colonel Slocum was suddenly shot down. Command of the regiment passed to Major Sullivan Ballou. Moments later, a Confederate cannonball killed Ballou's horse and mangled the Major's legs, but the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment remained steadfast and helped turn back the Confederate attack. Later, when the Federal line broke and provoked a panicky rout, the men of the 2nd Rhode Island calmly covered the Northern retreat. Mortally wounded in the battle were Colonel John S. Slocum, the regiment's commander, and Major Sullivan Ballou.
Their first battle ended in defeat, but the Rhode Islanders tasted the reality of war. "It is a sad duty to record a defeat accompanied by the loss of so many valuable lives," reported the regiment's brigade commander, Colonel Ambrose E. Burnside. "But defeat should only make us more faithful still to the great cause of humanity and civilization, in order that every disaster should be more than compensated for by an enduring victory."
Death and Burial
Colonel John S. Slocum was killed in action on 21 July 1861 at the Battle of Bull Run. He is buried at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, RI.
Inventory Number: CDV 485