Kershaw’s Report

21 02 2008

Col. Joseph B. Kershaw’s regiment, the 2nd SC, captured the colors of the First Maine Infantry during the battle.  As noted in Kershaw’s report, the banner was adorned with the Maine state motto, Dirigo – a Latin word meaning “I Lead” or “I Direct”.  While some sources link this motto to the fact that Maine once was the only state to hold its elections in September, it seems more likely that its choice was associated with the Polar Star, which leads mariners on the open sea to safe harbor.  The word is part of the official seal of the state (below).

dirigo.gif

 

Kershaw also mentioned some bad behavior by Federal Zouaves:

The escape of so many of the zouaves to our rear was accomplished by their lying down, feigning to be dead or wounded, when we charged over them, and then treacherously turning upon us. They murdered one of our men in cold blood after he had surrendered, and one attempted to kill another of our number who kindly stopped to give him water, supposing him wounded.

There are lots of reports of less than honorable behavior by both sides at Bull Run, and I’ll have more to say about that later.  But for now, perhaps some confirmation of the above can be found in the Historical Sketch of the Nottaway Grays, afterwards Company G, 18th Virginia Regiment, Army of Northern Virginia.  The 18th was part of Cocke’s Brigade, under Col. Withers, who is mentioned in Kershaw’s report as acting in concert with his command.  A future captain of the company, Richard Irby, wrote:

Soon the scene of the hottest part of the day’s battle was reached.  This was where Bee’s men had been driven back and the famous Stonewall Brigade had turned the tide.  Here the red-breeched Federals were lying thick, dead and wounded.  The first man killed in our Regiment was shot by one of these men as the line swept by him.  It was a spiteful act, and he did not live long to repent it, for as soon as he had fired, Major Cabell shot him down with his pistol.  This occurred in the thick pines.

The stories fit together.  The 18th VA and Kershaw’s command fought together.  Kershaw wrote his report five days after the battle, but Irby wrote his sketch in 1878.  And as discussed here, there’s a good bit of confusion surrounding the Zouaves of the 11th NY and the Chasseurs of the 14th Brooklyn.  Did Irby refer to the red-breeched Federals because that’s how he remembered it, or did he add it for effect?  Did Kershaw see Fire Zouaves of the 11th NY (who did not wear red pants), or did he see red trousered members of the 14th Brooklyn?

Beats me.

I haven’t been able to track down the identity of the Maj. Hill who brought the battalion of cavalry to Kershaw, or to whose staff he was attached.

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15 responses

23 02 2008
Mike Peters

Harry,

Not much to work with here. Another group to consider is the 39th NY, AKA Garibaldi Guard. Even though their outfits were more Italian than Franch, they were sometimes called the Garibaldi Zouaves. Like the 11th, they did wear red shirts. Even had a company of Frenchmen in their ranks.

Would they have fought near the 11th NY & 14th Brooklyn?

Mike

23 02 2008
Harry Smeltzer

Mike,

No, the Garibaldi Guards were part of Blenker’s brigade, Miles’s division. They were held in reserve at Centerville.

I’m pretty much of the opinion that, when the Confederates referred to Federal Zouaves on Henry Hill and during the retreat, they are talking about the 14th Brooklyn. I don’t think red shirts alone would lead anyone to conclude that the wearers were Zouaves. So right now I lean toward the interpretation that Stuart’s men charged on the 14th, and that Kershaw and Irby were talking about the 14th.

Union reports are a different story. They were much more familiar with the 11th NY, and since many viewed them as “pets” they may have had an axe to grind.

By the way, last weekend I talked myself out of buying the Don Troiani print “New York’s Bravest”, which depicts the 11th NY & 69th NYSM on Henry Hill. There are Zouave uniforms in that one – Co. K of the 69th – but again, no red pants. He does show the 11th wearing their fezes. It was marked down to $180. Did I pass up a bargain?

23 02 2008
Mike Peters

Harry,

Your reasoning is very sound. If I had to guess, I would also say that Kershaw was referencing the 14th Brooklyn using the “if they are wearing Red Pants then they must be Zouaves” logic. As you know, no Federal unit at Manassas wore the full traditional Zouave garb like that worn by the 114th PA, 5th NY & 9th NY. So it would make sense that the author of any report, be it Kershaw or Blackford, would pick out the Zoo-Zoo’s most distinguishing feature — RED PANTS — & go from there. But the 11th Firemen did were fezes …

IIRC, That particular Troiani, minus the frame, goes for about $300 on the secondary market.

Mike

6 03 2008
Frank

I have done Countless Research on the 14th Brooklyn and have found no evidence of this ever happening. Where did you get your information from? I would love to see this report! I have reports from the CSA and personal letters from Stonewall Jackson stating that they had nothing but respect for the 14th Brooklyn. In fact stonewall jackson gave the 14th Brooklyn its nickname, “Red Legged Devils” but then again if what this report says is true it could be that he called them devils because of their tactics. All and All this is an outstanding report. It is kind of believable, because Lincoln personally called upon the 14th Brooklyn, the union army called them Lincoln’s Pups, or Lincoln’s Pets. He would always visit with them, and used them as his guards on numerous occasions. So maybe they did do it!? Hard to tell.

6 03 2008
Harry Smeltzer

Frank,

I’m not sure exactly what you are referring to when you say you “have found no evidence of this ever happening.” I’m guessing you are talking about the bad behavior and whether or not it was the 14th B’Klyn who committed it. I don’t know if the incident actually occurred, only that Kershaw (in his report which you can find on this site by following the link in the above post or by clicking on Kershaw’s name on the “Official Reports, Confederate” page) and Irby (in his book to which I provided a link in the article above) both talked about similar incidents. The conjecture is to whom they were referring, the 11th NY or the 14th B’Klyn. I tend to believe that Confederate reports describing red trousered Zouaves are most likely referring to the 14th B’Klyn, because nobody else wore red pants in that battle, even though the 14th B’Klyn were not technically Zouaves.

6 03 2008
Frank

Harry,

Yeah I was referring to the 14th Brooklyn’s Reports from the battle. They don’t show anything close to this, only that some confederates bayoneted a member of the 14th 32 times, causing a double amputation. I wasn’t saying that this event didn’t happen, I was only remarking on the fact that I have no evidence regards to this within the records of the 14th Brooklyn. I do believe however that the 14th was not the only Red Legged Regiment at 1st Bull Run, in fact the 5th New York Zouaves should have been there with there full red trousers and red fez. I am however going to dig deeper into the record book, the company I am apart of holds the original ledger and records book of the 14th Brooklyn. It contains notes and detailed reports in their handwriting from 1848 up until 1900 or so. I will look through it and see what i can find. Regardless of how terrible of an act it was, I do believe it was genious, and have heard of other regiments and soldiers doing similar things during the war. Only thing to me about the report that is very unsettling is that someone killed a confed while he was trying to give them water, thats just sad. I guess it all boils down to what General Sherman said, “War is Hell”

Great Post By the Way, if i find anything further on this I will post back. Check out our site if you haven’t already!

Frank

6 03 2008
Harry Smeltzer

Frank,

I’d like to see the 14th B’Klyn report to which you refer (if it’s not in the ORs). No, the 5th NY was not at Bull Run – they had taken part in the engagement at Big Bethel, and did not return to Baltimore until July 26. As far as I have been able to learn, and I have consulted a few Zouave afficianados, there was only one regiment wearing red pants at Bull Run, and that was the 14th B’Klyn. As I said, not only were the 11th not wearing red pants that day, at no time did their uniform include red pants – their Zouave outfit was gray, with red shirts.

There was at least one member of the 14th who received numerous bayonet wounds – Private Lewis Francis of Co. I is photograph #113 in Vol. 3 of the Otis Historical Archive which is reproduced in The Photographic Atlas of Civil War Injuries. He received at least 15 stab wounds, including one to the left testis (ouch), and his right leg was eventually amputated on October 28, 1861.

As a corrolary, I also believe that the accounts of wounded Zouaves being bayonetted on the field also refer to the 14th B’Klyn.

6 03 2008
Harry Smeltzer

By the way, Frank, the subject of red pants has been discussed a good deal on this site. Check out this post: http://bullrunnings.wordpress.com/2008/01/20/stuarts-report/

6 03 2008
Frank

Harry,

Sorry I got my Bull Runs Mixed up there for a second. We did a movie for the national park service for 1st and 2nd Bull Run a few years back, and we played out henry house hill. We were up there with the 11th New York and another Zouave Regiment, but I do stand corrected the 14th Brooklyn was the only Red-Breeched Soldiers on the field that day. You know as I re-read your post, I had to read through some literature I have from first hand experiences, and it all started to make sense. The 14th Brooklyn did go back and fourth up the hill and charge quite a few times up and down the hill, losing and retaking the battery up on Henry House Hill, so it is very feasible that some of the boys knowing that the 14th was going to come back up the hill probably would have done ambush type tactics to the confederates to disrupt their lines. The regiment itself was split between high class Brooklyn socialites and brawlers.

Why when they faced the Tiger Zouaves they stood and watched as the tiger zouaves leveled their muskets at the 14th. Right as they were about to open up on them, they dropped to the ground, most of the Volley from the tiger zouaves poured into the marine corps, who were in battle line behind the 14th brooklyn. Needless to say the marine corps to this day has some hard feelings toward that action. After the volley the tiger zouaves dropped their muskets, and pulled their bowie knives out and charged. The 14th mowed them down with great slaughter forcing them to retire and regroup. The first battle of bull run is one of the most interesting battles fought during the war in my opinion.

Most of the reports I have are hard copies, once I get sometime I will transcribe them over to electronic form and send them your way. Do you have a copy of the photo of Lewis Francis? We have his Pension Records on our site, we have all the records pretty much of every man who fought in the 14th.

*Sorry for the Novel, I just Love Waxing CW*
Frank

6 03 2008
Harry Smeltzer

Frank,

I do have a picture of him, but it’s a bad scan. In return of your promise to send me transcriptions of the first hand accounts of the 14th at BR1, I’ll email the photo to you after I scan it again tonight. Or you could send me photocopies via snail-mail (no, I have no shame – it doesn’t hurt to ask!)

BTW, if you follow the link to the earlier post I gave you above, you may find a picture of yourself. The photo that starts off that article was from a 14th B’Klyn reenactor group website (credited).

16 03 2008
Mike Peters

Frank wrote the following:

In fact stonewall jackson gave the 14th Brooklyn its nickname, “Red Legged Devils”

Frank,

I have also heard the story that Stonewall gave the 14th Brooklyn its nickname at First Bull Run, fought 21 July 1861.

There is a letter written by Private George Tiebout of the 5th NY Infantry, which contains the following:

“Our regiment is called the red-legged devils, and the terror to evil-doers.”

We know this a very early reference, since Tiebout died at Big Bethel on 10 June 1861.

So there were 2 with the same moniker. And it looks like the 14th arrived late to the dance. :)

2 great regiments!

Respectively,

Mike Peters

19 03 2008
Frank

Mike,

Yeah I to have read this, but eventually the 5th New York Dropped the Red Legged Devils Moniker and was named the “Red Devils”. I have spent hours discussing this at length with my late friend Brian Pohanka about this. Yes early on both regiments were nicknamed the “Red Legged Devils” but again later the 14th held the name after 1st Bull Run because of their actions there. One because of their fighting prowess and also I believe because of the deeds depicted in this article above.

Harry,

Sorry for the late response brother its been hectic around here. Getting ready for the upcoming season of living history and moving back to NYC from Up north in Rochester. I did receive the picture and I am looking for the articles I told you about before, everything is packed away still! Once I find them I will send them your way after I put them into a digital format!

Your Comrade in Red,
Frank

19 03 2008
Frank

Also… Speaking on Nicknames, the 14th Brooklyn seemed to always have a nickname someone else had. But in this instance they were first. The 14th Brooklyn along with the 22nd New York, 24th New York, 30th New York, and 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters were members of the First Iron Brigade aka Eastern Iron Brigade. Interesting to say the least, if you look at the medals of both the Eastern and Western Iron Brigades they are pretty much exactly the same, only difference is the Units Listed on said medals!

19 03 2008
Mike Peters

Frank,

As you are probably aware, Cricket Pohanka is producing a movie on Brian’s beloved 5th & it is entitled “Red-Legged Devils.”

Mike

20 07 2008
Fire Zouaves: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words « Bull Runnings

[...] know, I go on and on about the uniform of the 11th NY Fire Zouaves at Bull Run, including here, here, and here.  To recap, despite numerous, even eyewitness accounts to the contrary, the regiment’s [...]

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