#82a – Col. James W. Allen

4 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report of Colonel James Walkinshaw Allen, Second Virginia Infantry


Sir: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the regiment under my command, on Sunday, July 21.  About 1 p.m. I was directed to station my regiment on the edge of a pine thicket to support the battery immediately on my right, with directions to fire when the enemy appeared in sight over the hill, then to charge and drive them back with the bayonet.  In this position my men lay somewhat under cover of the hill for more than an hour and a half, during all of which time they were exposed to the effect of shells and shot from the enemy’s batteries, which had advanced under cover of the hill towards my left flank.

Many of my men and officers were wounded by explosions which took place in their immediate midst, yet they stood their ground, awaiting the approach of the infantry.  Colonel [Arthur Campbell] Cummings, on my left, met them endeavoring to turn our flank.

After advancing, two of his companies fell back through my left, which was kept in position by the coolness of Captain [William Norborne] Nelson, who gallantly maintained his position, though thus exposed to both a front fire of grape and shell, and a flank fire from the enemy’s musketry.

At this juncture, I was informed by Major [Lawson] Botts (whose coolness, energy and perseverance in ralying the men deserves special commendation) that my left was turned.  Not seeing the enemy in front, I directed that the three left companies be drawn back to meet them.  This order was partially misunderstood by the center companies for a general direction to fall back, and all the line turned.  I at once gave the order to charge, but the thicket was so close and impenetrable only a part of the right wing, under Lieutenant-Colonel [Francis] Lackland, could be formed about thirty yards in rear of their original position; I then gave the order to form in the rear of the thicket, the enemy having advanced to the position originally occupied by the left of the regiment, judging from their fire, for it was utterly impossible to see them.

At the moment Colonel [Robert T.] Preston, who was on my right and in rear of the battery, advanced, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, with about 100 of my right, charged on the enemy’s battery, drove them from their pieces, and took position immediately in front of the guns, sheltering themselves as much as possible by them.  Wishing to secure one of the rifle cannon, he ordered five or six men to take it to the rear, but did not proceed more than fifty yards when the enemy opened on his right, which, being unsupported, he was compelled to retire with the few men under his command, having lost nine killed and thirty-four wounded in the charge.

The line did not retire until after our battery was withdrawn.  The list of killed and wounded having been handed in, it is unnecessary to repeat it.  I cannot, however, close this report without again making honorable mention of Captain Nelson, who gallantly fell at his post, supposed to be mortally wounded; to the gallantry of Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, who with but a handful of men charged on the enemy’s battery and actually brought one of their rifled guns some distance to the rear with but four men; to Lieutenant Harrison, Company D, who was shot dead whilst most gallantly charging with his men; to Lieutenant Mainer, Company E, who fell whilst advancing on the enemy; to Captain [William Lawrence] Clark, who fell dangerously wounded whilst leading his men, and to Adjutant Hunter who aided materially in rallying to the charge.  The coolness of the men under the fire of the enemy’s batteries for more than an hour was most commendable, especially as they had to receive [shots], without being able to return any of the fire.

Respectfully submitted,

[James Walkinshaw Allen]

Brigadier-General T. J. Jackson

[Samuel J. C. Moore Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]

#82g – Col. Arnold Elzey

3 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report of Brigadier-General Arnold Elzey


Headquarters, Fourth Brigade,

Camp at Fairfax Station,

July 25, 1861

Sir: In compliance with your instructions, I have the honor to make the following report of the services of my brigade during the day of the 21st of July, 1861:

The brigade left Piedmont at daylight on the 21st inst., and after much delay and detention on the railroad, arrived at Manassas Junction about 12 M., when it received orders to detach a regiment to remain at the Junction to guard a weak point, and then to proceed to Lewis House, near the battle-field, and hold itself in waiting.  Col. A. P. Hill’s regiment, being the smallest – four companies not having come up from Piedmont – was designated for the service.  Brigadier-General Smithaccompanied the brigade to the battle-field, and continued to exercise the command over it with which he had been empowered at Piedmont.  The march to the field, part of the way, was performed in double-time.  The battle raged fiercely, and Gen. Smith ordered the brigade to pass the Lewis House and proceed to the scene of action.

On entering the field to the left, Gen. Smith was shot from his horse, and the entire command reverted to myself.  The brigade was formed in line of battle, with the 10thVirginia regiment in reserve.  About this time Captains Hill and Cunningham, of Gen. Smith’s staff, reported to me.  I detached Capt. Cunningham with four companies of the 10th Virginia regiment to hold a captured battery, and directed Capt. Hill to conduct Beckham’s battery to a point on the left.  The position was well selected, and the battery under Lieut. Beckham was admirably served and made a decided impression on the enemy.  Having received intelligence that our left was weakened, I determined to make a movement in that direction, and accordingly, to march by the left flank through a wood to the left and then to the front.  The brigade in line – 3d Tennessee regiment on the right, 1st Maryland in the centre, 10th Virginia on the left – passed an open field and through a wood.  On arriving at the edge of the woods, the enemy was discovered but a short distance in front, Stars and Stripes waving.  I ordered the line to open fire.  A brisk and terrific fire was kept up for a few seconds, and the enemy disappeared.

The comandwas ordered to advance, and on rising the crest of an open field, nothing could be seen but the dead bodies of men and horses.  The line continued to advance, and on coming to a thicket in front, again encountered the enemy, and opened fire; the charge was ordered, the thicket cleared, and the enemy dispersed.  I was ordered by Gen. Beauregard to retire with my command to the hill in rear, from which I subsequently took up a position across the stone bridge.  It is with pride and pleasure that I refer to the coolness and gallantry of the whole command during the day.  The fire upon the enemy was well-directed and destructive, and they sustained his fire with the indifference of veteran troops.  The Maryland regiment was under Lieut.-Col. G. H. Steuart and Major Bradley T. Johnson; the 3d Tennessee under Col. Vaughan, Lieut. Col. Reese, and Major Morgan, and the 10th Virginia regiment under Col. Gibbons, Lieut.-Col. Warren, and Major Walker.

I cannot speak too highly of the gallantry and good service of my personal staff, Lieutenants Chetney, McDonald, and Contee.  They were repeatedly exposed to the enemy’s fire in delivering orders, and rendered excellent service in obtaining information of his whereabouts.

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

Arnold Elzey,

Brigadier-General Commanding 4th Brigade

Major Thomas G. Rhett,

Ass’t Adj’t Gen.


2 01 2009

acw309The new (March 2009) issue of America’s Civil War magazine is out.  The cover is graced by the image of that warm and fuzzy Confederate Lieutenant General Braxton Bragg.  The January issue featured the always polarizing Nathan Bedford Forrest on the cover, which resulted in some angry letters to the editor in the March issue.  I think editor Dana Shoaf (or his staff) did a fine job in responding to those,  and doubtless left at least one of the letter-writers feeling ignorant, stupid, racist – maybe even all three.  Good going, editors!

Also in this issue, on pages 68 & 69, is my new column, Smeltzer’s Six-Picks.  I’m not sure if that’s what it will be called in the next issue.  And that’s my picture in the upper left hand corner of page 68.  You can see my Penn State cap, but my Nittany Lion football jersey got cropped out.  So now you all know what I look like, and also why I don’t post photos of myself here.  In the column I provided brief, informational reviews on four new releases, and also hipped readers to a couple older titles that are related to two of the new books.  That’s the general format I’ll be following for as long as the magazine thinks it’s a good idea.  Let me know what you think.

Imboden’s Report

1 01 2009

imbodenIf you read my post on Imboden’s Report prior to about 2:30 PM on Jan. 1, you will notice that it looks a little different now.  Prompted by a question from Craig, I took a look at another source for the report.  The original post was taken from the Supplement to the Official Records, a copy of which was provided me by Jonathan Soffe.  Correspondence with Jim Burgess at Manassas NBP revealed that Imboden’s report is also published in the second volume of The Rebellion Record, which I have here in my office.  That publication showed that there are some differences between it and the version of the report published in the Charleston Daily Courier which served as the basis for the report in the Supplement.  Those differences included punctuation and paragraphs, as well as variation in text and the inclusion of a large portion of text missing from the Supplement.  So I have replaced my earlier post with the report as it appears in the Rebellion Record.  Read it again as I think it is significantly different.

The report prompted me to send a note to Jim with regards to the single gun which Imboden identified as belonging to the 4th Alabama.  Since I’d never seen reference to the Alabamians having their own cannon before, I turned to Jim for clarification.  His response confirmed my suspicions:

Imboden’s report is also published in The Rebellion Record (Vol. 2, p.43).  We have always interpreted Imboden’sreference to the gun with the 4th Alabama as actually being Lt. Clarke Leftwich’s piece from the Lynchburg Artillery (Latham’s Battery).   This was one of the two guns assigned to Evans’ brigade, Lt. George Davidson commanding the other 6-pounder of the section near the entrance to Robinson’s Lane.    Imboden’s reference to the horses running off with the limber for the gun in question appears remarkably similar to what Leftwich experienced.   In a letter published in the Richmond Enquirer, Aug. 6, 1861, Leftwich takes issue with Imboden’s published report and states that it was the horses for his caisson that took flight from the yard of the Stone House.   He further states, “As to the Alabama Regiment crossing to the north side of the Warrenton road…with our gun, that, too, is incorrect.   Our two six-pounders were brought from the Stone Bridge directly to the scene of action… unattended by the Alabama regiment or a single individual except those commanding and manning the guns…. No gun or piece of artillery took position between the Staunton battery and the enemy, or with the Alabama regiment at any portion of the fight, except our two six-pounders.  Nor was any piece north of the Warrenton road except ours, during the engagement.”

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Jim Burgess

Next up – get a copy of Leftwich’s letter!

Imboden photo from www.generalsandbrevets.com


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