#116 – Col. Wade Hampton

14 08 2008

Report of Col. Wade Hampton, Commanding Hampton Legion

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.566-567


Camp Johnson, Broad Run, July 29, 1861

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that with six hundred infantry of my command I reached Manassas on the morning of the 21st, after thirty hours’ detention on the cars from Richmond. In obedience to orders to take position in the direction of stone bridge, ready to support any of the troops engaged in that quarter, I advanced with six infantry companies to Lewis’ house, the headquarters of General Cocke. On my way to this point a scout informed me that the enemy in great force had turned our left flank and were rapidly advancing. I immediately turned to my left at a right angle to the course I had been pursuing, and guided by the sound of a heavy fire which had just opened, marched towards their advancing lines.

Finding one of our batteries engaging the enemy, I took position to support it and remained for some time near it, but seeing that the enemy were closing in on my right flank, I moved forward to a farm house belonging to a free negro named Robinson, and took possession of the ground immediately around it. After being exposed to a heavy fire from Ricketts’ battery and musketry, I formed my men on the turnpike road leading to stone bridge in front of the farm-yard. A large body of the enemy, who were in advance of the main column, and who were within two hundred yards of the turnpike, opened fire on me as the line was formed. Under this fire Lieut. Col. B. J. Johnson fell, and in his fall the service sustained a great loss, while the Legion has met with an irreparable misfortune. He fell as, with the utmost coolness and gallantry, he was placing our men in position. In his death Carolina is called to mourn over one of her most devoted sons. As soon as my men came into position they returned the fire of the enemy and drove them back with loss into the woods on the top of the hill in front of us.

Their right wing then opened upon us, but after a brisk exchange of fire they retreated and planted a battery in the position they had just left. After this had played upon us for some time a strong force was thrown out, apparently with the view of charging upon us, but a single volley dispersed them in great confusion. They then formed beyond the crest of the hill and moved down to the turnpike on my left flank out of the range of my rifles. As soon as they reached the road they planted a battery in it, enfilading my position. As I was entirely exposed, I made my men fall back and form over the brow of the hill, where they were protected from the fire of the guns but not from that of the rifles. Here we were attacked by a column which came from the direction of the headquarters of General Evans, almost on our right, and we were nearly surrounded, the enemy being on three sides of us, and Generals Bee and Evans having both advised me to fall back, I gave orders to this effect, having held this position unsupported for at least two hours in the face of the enemy, greatly superior in numbers and well provided with artillery.

A short time before we retired, General Evans and Bartow, with the remnants of their commands, came upon the ground, joined with us in our fire on the enemy, and fell back with us. My men retired in good order to the hill just in our rear, bearing off our wounded, and formed near a battery (Imboden’s and Walton’s), which was just then put in position. Here, after indicating the place you wished me to occupy, you directed me to remain until you sent for me. The order to charge soon came from you, and we advanced to the Spring Hill farm house, (Mrs. Henry’s) under a heavy fire of cannon and musketry. In the face if this my men advanced as rapidly as their worn-out condition would allow, and after delivering a well-directed fire, I ordered them to charge upon the battery under the hill.

In leading this charge I received a wound which, though slight, deprived me of the honor of participating in the capture of the guns which had done us so much injury during the day. After being wounded I gave command of the Legion to Capt. James Conner, the senior officer present. He formed the Legion on the right of the regiment of Colonel Withers (Eighteenth Virginia), advanced directly upon the battery, passing by the right of the farm house down upon the two guns, which were taken. Captain Ricketts, who had command of this battery, was here wounded and taken prisoner. The enemy being driven back at all points, began to retreat before the forces which were rapidly brought up, and in the pursuit which followed the Legion joined, advancing two miles beyond the stone bridge.

The death of Colonel Johnson in the early part of the day having deprived me of the only field officer who was on the ground, I was greatly embarrassed in extending the necessary orders, and but for the constant and efficient assistance given to me by my staff officers in the extension of these orders, my position would have been rendered as critical as it was embarrassing.

The unflinching courage of the brave men who sustained their exposed and isolated position under the trying circumstances of that eventful day inspires in me a pride which it is due to them I should express in the most emphatic terms, under the terrible uncertainty of the first half hour as to the positions of both friend and foe. Compelled frequently during the day from the same cause to receive an increasing fire from different quarters while they withheld their own, the self-devotion of these faithful soldiers was only equaled by the gallantry of the officers whom they so trustingly obeyed. To the officers and men who followed and upheld our flag steadfastly during the bloody fight which resulted so gloriously to our army I beg to express my warmest thanks. Their conduct has my unqualified approbation, and I trust it has met the approval of their general commanding.

I regret to report a loss of fifteen killed upon the battlefield, four since dead, one hundred wounded, and two missing.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding Legion

Brigadier-General BEAUREGARD,

Commanding Army of the Potomac

#115 – Brig. Gen. T. H. Holmes

14 08 2008

Report of Brig. Gen. T. H. Holmes, C. S. Army, Commanding Reserve Brigade

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 565-566


GENERAL: On Wednesday, the 18th of July, I received orders from the headquarters of the Army to hold my brigade in readiness to support your army if called on by you. I proceeded with two regiments (the Second Tennessee and First Arkansas Volunteers) and Walker’s battery that afternoon towards Manassas, and on my arrival at Camp Chopawamsic sent an officer to communicate with you. Soon after the officer left I received your telegram to Lieutenant-Colonel Green urging me forward. The march was resumed, and I encamped near Brentsville.

On reporting to you in person on Friday morning I was ordered to Camp Wigfall as a support to Ewell’s brigade, charged with the defense of Union Mills and its neighborhood. My brigade rested on Saturday.

About 9 o’clock on Sunday, the 21st, I received a copy of your note to General Ewell, directing him to hold himself in readiness to take the offensive at a moment’s notice, to be supported by my brigade. This order caused me to move nearer to Ewell’s position, where, after waiting about two hours, another order was received through Ewell to resume our former places. Up to this time the firing was comparatively slow. About 12 o’clock m., or a few minutes sooner, the firing on our left became very heavy. About 2 o’clock p.m. I received a copy of a note from you to General Jones, dated at a point one mile south of Union Mills, directing me, among other movements, to repair to you.

I immediately marched in the direction of the firing, and on my arrival at Camp Walker received the first order directed to myself. This was a verbal one, requiring me to hasten forward as soon as possible. The march from thence to Lewis’ house was made in good time. The brigade was halted there by order of General Johnston, and did not participate in the fight, as the enemy commenced to retreat within a few moments after my arrival. I ordered Walker’s rifled guns to fire at the retreating enemy, and Scott’s cavalry to join in the pursuit. The fire of the former was exceedingly accurate, and did much execution, and the pursuit of the latter was very effective, taking many prisoners and capturing much property.

I cannot speak too highly of the spirit and enthusiasm of my brigade.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade

General G. T. BEAUREGARD, Camp Manassas


14 08 2008

When it comes to the Civil War, I’m not real emotional.  I don’t feel deep, spiritual things on fields where “something stays”.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)  But this particular sequence from the film Glory always gets to me, especially the part where Matthew Broderick sends his horse off at a gallop.  Some folks call the film maudlin, but they should understand that the writers had to tone the script down from what actually happened to make the movie less Hollywood.  To me, it’s Brian’s Song, Rudy and Big Fish all rolled into one.  Guys know just what I’m talking about.

God, Youtube is such a time sucker.

More on the Gettysburg VC

11 08 2008

Blogger Kevin Levin has asked me to expand a little on my impressions of the new Gettysburg Visitor’s Center.  Well, you can read all about the layout and design of the VC on any number of blogs and websites, so I assume what Kevin wants to know is what I think of the place in light of what others have had to say.  I’ll just quickly address some of the criticisms I’ve seen, and also list what I viewed as positives.  Keep in mind that I did not visit the theater or the food court.

There is an awful lot of empty space in the building, particularly wall space.  This is true, but I don’t know what the future plans are for these expanses.  At 9:00 AM the space was conspicuous, but by noon it was obvious that the extra room was a good thing, particularly when one remembers how stifling and close the old VC was when it got crowded.  But the place is awfully big: ostentatious, even.

There is not enough of the park’s artifacts collection on display.  I can understand this complaint probably better than any other because of the emphasis placed on preserving and exhibiting the artifacts when the rationale for the new VC was laid out.  I think a good many items could be added with a more judicious employment of wall space.

There is more touristy junk and fewer book titles in the bookstore than previously.  Probably true, but I think many of the regulars who made purchases at the VC bookstore did so out of a sense of obligation, to help out, as it were.  Pretty much all the inventory could be had at a fraction of the cost from other stores in town or online.  Most of the other folks patronizing the store were looking for general books on the war and the battle, or touristy junk.  And nowhere else in town could I find this swell Lincoln-on-a-Stick.

The museum focuses too much on the history of the war in general and not enough on the battle specifically.  I think this may be the unkindest criticism of all.  The museum’s exhibits help put the battle into context, and at the highest level that should be the goal of interpretation.  After all, the other 5,000+ acres of the park are exclusively devoted to the interpretation of the battle.

Most of the criticisms I’ve seen come from fairly hard core students of the war and, more specifically, of Gettysburg.  Let’s face it, most of these guys (myself included) hardly spent any time in the old VC, and when we did go in it was to use the bathroom, meet up with friends, or go to the bookstore.  Frankly, I think this visitor’s center does not and should not cater to the frequent visitor, because the overwhelming majority of those entering its doors do not and will not do so frequently.  Gettysburg is what it is – the equivalent of the baseball and football halls of fame, both of which attempt to tell a whole story.  And Gettysburg is more often than not the only Civil War attraction (for lack of a better term) that most of these folks will visit.  The NPS owes its patrons the most comprehensive experience it can provide, and I think the new GNMP Visitor’s Center represents a big step in that direction.

Gettysburg Fix

10 08 2008

This past Thursday I decided, on the spur of the moment, to make a quick trip to Gettysburg.  The wife and son would be out of town for the weekend, things are a little slow work-wise, so I figured what the heck.  Wifey reserved a room for me at the Hampton Inn on York Street for Friday night, I wrapped up a few things that needed wrapped up, and I hit the road for Gettysburg Friday afternoon.  I got into town a around 6:30 and made a B-line for the the parking lot behind the Travel Lodge.  The Horse Soldier was closed, of course.  I guess the Visitor’s Center relocation has not affected their business to the point where they will stay open past 5:00 pm on a Friday night during the busiest season for the town.

And busy the town was!  After talking a bit with Licensed Battlefield Guide Andy Ward (I ran into him in the parking lot when he was on his way to take more of his fine battlefield pictures), I took a walk down Steinwehr Ave, past all the T-Shirt shops, ghost tour booths, and throngs of tourists.  At The Farnsworth House book store I picked up a copy of the new biography of Francis T. Meagher.  Later that night I stopped into the Reliance Mine Saloon for a couple or three Yuenglings.

Bright and early Saturday I made my way to the new Gettysburg Visitor’s Center, which I had not had the opportunity to visit.  It’s big.  Really big.  Lots and lots of space in this sucker.  The museum is nice, and the whole story of the war is laid out for what is undoubtedly the overwhelmingly typical visitor.  And it is the visitor’s center, after all.  The bookstore offers a nice selection for that same typical visitor, though there are also a few obscure titles (the reprint of Phisterer’s New York in the War of the Rebellion was a bit too pricey for the quality, though I thought about it).  I also took a walking tour from the VC to Cemetery Ridge, designed again for the typical visitor.  In this case, lucky typical visitors because it was led by Ranger and author Gregory Coco.  Ranger Coco offered an unusually candid and humanistic narrative as he led our group to the Widow Leister house and The Angle, admonishing us all to take time to think of all the good things we have, and not to focus on the negatives.  It was a beautiful day, so after the tour I wandered about a bit.  The 20th Mass. “Pudding Stone” monument (the last photo) is one of my all-time favorites.


As I headed back to my car, I passed this kiosk.  Yep, that face peering at you is non-other than Francis Brownell of the 11th New York Fire Zouaves, profiled here.

I returned to my favorite parking lot and, after a quick bite at O’Rorke’s Pub (named for the fellow whose account of his experience at Bull Run can be read here), set off for a long walk around town.  I was pleasantly surprised to run into old friends Jim and Kathy Semler and we had a nice chat.  Before heading home I returned to The Horse Soldier and purchased a print of Don Troiani’s New York’s Bravest, which depicts the 11th NY and the 69th NYSM at Bull Run.  I’m not a big fan of Troiani, but the subject appealed to me.  Now to get it framed and find a place to hang it.

Sneak Peak

10 08 2008

Francis Rose has put up this sample of our upcoming Q&A.  After listening to it, I’d like to thank my family for putting up with my voice all these years.  And yes, I imagine I sound as goofy (on multiple levels) throughout.  Check it out.

The Civil War Network

8 08 2008

As noted here, on Tuesday I was interviewed for a new Civil War internet radio program.  Francis Rose is the owner and host of the program which will be available at his blog, The Civil War Network.  I see that Paul Taylor was interviewed yesterday – read about that here.  Like Paul, I found the process not altogether unpleasant.  Mr. Rose has been in radio for a long time (though not as long as the guy pictured here, Walter Winchell), and currently works as a producer and anchor in DC.  He’s also an enthusiastic student of the war and a native of York County, PA.

Mostly we talked about the other part of the blog, the digitization of the Battle of First Bull Run.  The first program is set to “air” (you don’t have to be listening at a set time, we’re talking on-demand podcast, I believe) on August 27th, and will feature some hack named Dr. James McPherson and yours truly.  I’ve added a link to Francis’s blog to the right.

New Theme

7 08 2008

This new design is called Freshy, and replaces Chaotic Soul which I used for 21 months. What do you think?  Better?  Worse?  Let me know.

Oh yeah…if you have to ask what this picture has to do with a theme, I’m not sure you’ve led a full life!

Monocacy National Battlefield Visitor’s Center

6 08 2008

Fellow blogger and historical marker hunter Craig Swain chastised me for having no photos of Monocacy National Battlefield in this post about some of the sites I visited in Frederick, Md, in June.  I shot plenty, and decided to present them here in this separate post.

The new visitor’s center at the park is very airy and modern, but I gotta tell ya, the old VC had a lot more charm.  I find the new one a little, umm…, sterile?  Austere?  The first floor houses what you might call a book store, but really it’s all one big room featuring the ranger desk.  The second floor has artifacts and placards arranged in a circular pattern, with an observation deck at the end opposite the entrance.  I don’t know, it just didn’t appeal to me.  I may have been expecting too much after having seen the new Corinth Interpretive Center.  Anyway, here are some photos I took that hot, hot Saturday morning.  Click the thumbs for larger images, click those images for even larger ones.


The entrance sign and the new, barnlike VC – the old VC was in a real barn


The second floor displays, including a room encircling time-line and the frock coat of a New Jersey officer (I think)


A tactile display and Jubal Early’s campaign desk


A cavalry display and an appropriately larger artillery display


Time-line detail and battle map with bells and whistles


General Lew Wallace’s uniform coat and vest and the observation deck


A small closet which the visitor opens to reveal the battleflag of Co F, 17th VA Cavalry, Nighthawk Rangers

Radio Star (Sort Of)

5 08 2008

This afternoon I was interviewed by a fella who is starting up a Civil War variety hour Internet radio show.  It will differ from what Gerry Prokopowicz does with Civil War Talk Radio in that it will feature multiple segments with different guests on different topics, and it won’t be live.  I’ll let you know more as I learn more, but as it stands now my segment will “air”, so to speak, along with one featuring someone who has been called the rock star of Civil War historians.  I guess I’m the counter-balance.

Also, I’m writing this post using the WordPress editor instead of my usual Word editor.  I usually use Word because I can manipulate the font size, but it brings lots of code into the mix which can sometimes screw up other aspects of my posts.  Let me know what you think of the size of this print (keeping in mind you can make it bigger by increasing the text size on your browser: see here).  I’m really just tired of WordPress constantly telling me that any problem I have is because I’m using Word, and that all I need to do is buy the CSS upgrade.  While the upgrade is inexpensive, I would of course have to learn how to use CSS.  Even if you’re not a regular reader, please tell me what you think of this font size.  I need lots of responses to make a decision.


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