Artilleryman Clement D. Fishburne’s Account of the Campaign

5 09 2008

This letter from Clement D. Fishburne to Dr. P. B. Barringer appeared in the October, 2008 edition of Civil War Times magazine, and this portion is reprinted with the magazine’s kind permission.  The complete article can be found here.  The original letter is situated in Special Collections, University of Virginia, MSS #3569.  The excerpt below excludes the first part of the letter describing the author’s pre-war observations of T. J. Jackson.

Charlottesville Va. 8th April 1903

Dr. P. B. Barringer

University of Va

Dear Ari:

Whilst I do not doubt that I met them after wards from time to time before our “civil war” began I do not distinctly recall any other interview with him till in May 1861 when I went to Harper’s Ferry to make inquiry about my younger brother, who a private in the Col. J.E.B. Stuart’s 1st Regt of Va. Cavalry, had been accidentally shot by one of his comrades. This Regt. was part of Major (then Colonel) Jackson’s Command. Here I found the Colonel busily engaged with his work, organizing his command. He was cordial and hospitable, but after ascertaining that my brother had been sent to a hospital at Winchester, I hur-ried on to that town and from there returned in a few days to the University of Va., where I had begun the study of Law in the preceding fall. I soon discovered that it would be difficult for me to find profit in trying to study there, where all the students and Professors were thoroughly interested in the preparations then making in the State of Virginia for the inevitable conflict, and I accordingly decided to join the army and to cast my lot with the Rockbridge Artillery. This Battery had been organized at Lexington Va. and had in it a large number of young men who had been educated atWashington College. It was commanded by Rev. W.N. Pendleton, the Rector of the Episcopal Church at Lexington, who had graduated some years before at West Point and had been a fellow cadet with Genl. Ro. E. Lee, Gen. Joseph E. Johnson & other distinguished graduates, some of whom had already been called to prominent positions in the two armies which were then preparing for the great conflict.

Maj. Jackson had been commissioned a Col. when he was called to the command of the forces at Harpers Ferry. Soon after my trip to that place he moved his troops up the river, the Potomac, so as to command the crossing places. His cavalry under Col. Stuart picketed the river and the infantry was stationed at convenient places from Williamsport down to Harper’s Ferry. I went down the Valley by stage coach to Winchester and from that town went with a wagon train toward Martinsburg. Some three or four miles south of this town I found the Rockbridge Artillery, on the 21st June, resumming its march and there I joined it.We passed through the town and went into camp in an oak grove about four miles north of the town. Here we found several regiments of infantry belonging to a Brigade under Command of Col. Jackson, the nucleus of the Brigade which was afterwards known as Jackson’s Brigade and after the battle ofManassas known as the “Stonewall brigade.” My recollection is that this Brigade at first was composed of Col. JEB Stuart’s regiment of Cavalry, the 2nd, the 4th, the 5th, the 27th, & the 33rd regiments of Virginia Infantry and the Rockbridge Artillery.

As soon as I could conveniently do so I called on the Col. who was a very busy man and found him cheerful and pleasant as usual—and always cordial toward the men of his brigade who had before been personally known to him.

Genl. Patterson was reported as advancing toward us by the Ferry & ford at Williamsport and after some of his troops had crossed the Potomac Col. Jackson met him near the “Falling Waters” several miles north of our Camp. His troops, the Cavalry and Infantry, were deployed in front of what would be Gen Patterson’s line of march and the four guns of our artillery were moved forward on the turnpike-road which connected Martinsburg and Williamsport and here halted for further developments. Very soon we saw the 5th regiment moved forward and one of our guns, a six pounder brass gun was also advanced.  They were soon hidden from us by a patch of wood land but we had not long to wait for news from them. The battle begun by Patterson’s troops was continued by Jackson’s infantry and the one gun. Jackson was in direct command and his troops were highly elated by his coolness & promptness. The 5th Va Regt. and the one gun did considerable execution and delayed Gen. Patterson’s advance so that, at Col. Jacksons command, his troops began to fall back slowly & in perfect order.

Corporal M. tells the story that during this backward movement, the enemy’s artillery sent some shots intended to hasten our march, or at least to let us know that they were following us, and that, as a spent ball rolled near us, one of our privates approached himand exclaimed in indignant tones against the conduct of Gen. Patterson—“was any thing like this ever heard of in civilized warfare!— firing on a retreating foe!!” The Corporal was pretty amused but did not stop to discuss the outrage— Our brigade slowly fell back, through Martinsburg and, when we reached a place called Darkesville, we met for the first time Genl. Joseph E. Johnson to whom, as we understand it, Genl. Jackson reported. We were much impressed by the soldierly bearing of our new Commander in Chief. He was a man of medium height, a handsome man and a skillful, accomplished horseman. He had with him his staff and probably other troops besides Jackson’s brigade, but of this I am not sure. On a beautiful meadow East of the Valley turnpike, our brigade was deployed and Col. Jackson’s brigade-Quartermaster was provided with strips of white callon cloth with which each of the members of the brigade was decorated for the purpose of distinguishing us from the troops of Gen. Patterson who were expected to make an attack on us. The ordinary uniforms then worn by the troops of both armies were very similar and this mode of designating our troops was adopted in order to prevent confusion and the possible mistaking the enemy for friends & vice versa. Gen Jackson was frequently among us during our demonstration while awaiting the advance of Genl. Pattersons forces. We thus remained in line for a day or two, but the Enemy did not advance and we slowly resumed our march toward Winchester which place we reached on the 8 or 10th of July. Here we remained a few days, making demonstrations of readiness to begin battle, till the after noon of the 18th when, after orders to prepare three day’s ration’s, we set out from Winchester east ward. When we had gone a few miles, each body of our troops was halted long enough to hear an order from Gen. Johnson to the effect that ‘Our troops under the command of Gen Beauregard were already attacked by the Enemy at “Bulls run” and we were urged to “gird up our loins”: and march with all possible speed to aid our fellow soldiers near Manassas.

Each body responded with a shout and the march was resummed. The brigade reached the top of the mountain after midnight and [bivouacked] as best it could along the top and eastern slope of the Blue ridge awaiting further orders. Gen. Jackson was “inevidence” occasionally giving orders for the further march east-ward. About sunset the march was resumed— the infantry (as we were informed) taking the trains on the R.R. and the Rockbridge Artillery followed the dirt road and marched all night, halting an hour or so at “the Plains” to rest the horses, and again about sun rise to rest and feed them.

About the middle of the afternoon of the 20th we were halted at the Manassas station to rest and receive our further orders. The infantry of the Brigade had already arrived in that vicinity and were bivouacked on the South bank of “Bulls run” where we supposed Jackson was. After a tedious and unsatisfactory halting without water, we resumed the march and about dusk reached the banks of the “Bull’s run” where, without unnecessary delay, we made ourselves and our horses as comfortable as possible and went to sleep near that small stream. About break of day we were aroused by the Enemy’s artillery which was located north of us at Centreville and which was amusing itself firing in our direction as was made manifest by the occasional arrival in our vicinity of their shots or shells. Gen. Jackson took command of the infantry of his brigade and led them toward the place where they were after wards engaged on the ground where the first battle of Manassas was fought—not far from the celebrated “Henry House,” and there the Battery joined them.

We found Gen. Jackson on the field riding from one end of the line of his Infantry regiments to the other. He personally superintended the placing of the Rockbridge Artillery into position on the crest of the Hill in front of his infantry. He was riding a small bay horse, which limped from a wound it had rec. in a hind leg. The General had also been wounded in a finger and was riding about with his hand elevated and wrapped in a silk handkerchief. I supposed that he held his hand up to prevent bleeding, but the newspaper correspondents afterward described him as riding about with his hand elevated in prayer for the success of our cause. He probably prayed then as he was known to be a praying man, but he did not fail to watch as well as pray and he saluted me and other acquaintances who met him on the field.

At the proper time he gave orders for the Artillery to fall back and for the Infantry to rise and take position on the crest of hill preparatory to attacking the Enemy in the direction of the “Henry house.” I do not remember distinctly seeing him for some days after this battle but I doubt not that we all saw him frequently, as he was much interested in our getting out of the captured guns enough of the newly acquired cannon to equip anew the battery with six guns in place of the four which we had at the beginning.

During the week following the battle, Maj. John A. Harman, the quarter master of the Brigade, which was beginning to be known as “the Stonewall Brigade,” selected for it a Camp north of the battlefield and a few miles north of Centreville, in the direction of Fairfax Court House. Here we were encamped more than a month and Gen. Jackson’s Head Quarters were within half-mile of the Battery, at a substantial farm house.  In the yard were his tents in which his staff lodged and where the business of the Brigade was transacted. Every Sunday some religious services were conducted to which all the members of the Brigade were welcomed. At these services Gen. Jackson occupied a camp chair and it was said that on one occasion the chair upset with him, which gave rise to the conjecture which was expressed by some who had known his  habits—that he had slept & lost his balance while asleep.

From this camp he marched with his brigade northward to the vicinity of Fairfax Court House, but no skirmishing with the Enemy followed this march and after a few days in which our gun carriages were overhauled and harness mended & greased and new horses obtained, we fell back to Centreville at night reaching it in the very early morning. We bivouacked on grassy hills near the Headquarters of Gen Jos. E. Johnson and next day pitched our tents & went into camp where we spent several weeks.

Whilst here the whole Command was reviewed by our general officers and the display of troops was very encouraging to us raw veterans. We thought we could whip all the troops that the Federals could muster against us. “It was a child’s ignorance then, but it was pleasant.”

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4 responses

5 09 2008
Teej Smith

Just thought I would note that Dr. Paul Brandon Barringer was the son of Brig. Gen. Rufus Barringer, commander of the NC Brigade (cavalry). Supposedly, it was to Barringer that Jackson first unveiled his “Black Flag” policy which was rejected by R.E. Lee. All mention of the policy was also omitted from earlier editions of his wife’s biography of her famous husband but later was added.

Regards,
Teej

5 09 2008
Harry Smeltzer

Teej,

Thanks for the background…imagine, a son of the vale of humility a professor in the mountain of conceit!

Yes, the Christian warrior didn’t want them brave…he wanted them dead. “Kill them, kill them all!”

19 07 2010
j.r. fishburne

delighted to read letter from c.d. fishburne to dr. barringer. it may be of interest that clem fishburne served as best man at the wedding of t.j. jackson to his first wife, miss junkin, the daughter of dr. junkin, president of washington college. her sister married c.d. fishburne’s brother, junius, who also graduated from the college and later taught latin and greek there.

19 07 2010
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks for stopping by, J.R. If you have any letters, diaries, etc. of your ancestor you’d like to share, I’ll be happy to add them to the resources section.

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