Lincoln’s Collected Works – Vol. I (Part 2)

11 08 2009

Continued from here.

Sept. 27, 1841 – To Mary Speed (pp 260-261).  In this letter Lincoln famously recounts a river boat trip on which he and best bud Joshua Speed observed a dozen recently purchased slaves, “strung together precisely like so many fish upon a trot-line.”  But he also mentions an “Aunt Emma”, who the editors identify in footnote #8 as Emma Keats, wife of Joshua Speed’s brother Philip and the sister of the English poet John Keats.  This site, however, identifies Emma as Keats’ niece (see 85).  Then Lincoln refers to a Mrs. Peay, and in footnote #9 the editors explain that this is Mrs. Peachy Walker Speed Peay, another of Joshua’s sisters and the wife of Austin Peay.  According to this site, early 20th century Tennessee Governor Austin Peay was a Kentuckian for whom what is now Austin Peay State University (alma mater of the great “Fly” Williams) was named.  His father is listed as a Confederate cavalryman, also named Austin Peay, but with wife Cornelia.  It seems likely that Peachy’s Austin is some sort of precursor to the Governor, but I’m not sure how.  I just think it’s cool that her name was Peachy Peay.  Austin and Peachy would take over Farmington, the Speed family’s Kentucky mariju…er, hemp plantation after the death of the pater familia.

Aug. 7, 1844 – Resolutions Adopted by Springfield Clay Club on the Death of John Brodie (p 341).  “Whereas, we the Springfield Clay Club, impelled by a profound respect for the character of our late and lamented friend, JOHN BRODIE, and by the peculiarly afflictive manner of his death, are desirous of expressing in some appropriate way our deep and lasting regard for his memory:”  In a footnote we learn that “Brodie was killed on August 3 when struck by the fall of a derrick with which a Liberty Pole was being raised for the Whig rally scheduled on that day.  The Whig Liberty Pole, 214 feet 6 inches high, was erected on August 23.”

Feb. 12, 1845 – Recommendation for Admittance of Stanislaus P. Lalumiere to the Practice of Law (pp 343-344).  In a footnote, we learn that “[f]ollowing a term as clerk of the United States Court in Springfield, Lalumiere went to St. Louis, Missouri, to take a similar position.  While there he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, and upon being ordained priest in 1857, was sent to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he later founded Marquette University” (alma mater of the great Butch Lee).

Jun. 2, 1848 – To William H. Herndon (pp 490-492).  Here Lincoln’s temper bursts forth from the paper. “You ask me to send you all the speeches made about ‘Old Zach[ary Taylor]‘ the war &c. &c.  Now this makes me a little impatient.  I have regularly sent you the Congressional Globe and Appendix, and you can not have examined them, or you would have discovered that they contain every speech made by every man, in both Houses of Congress, on every subject, during this session.  Can I send any more?  Can I send speeches that nobody has made?  Thinking it would be most natural that the newspapers would feel interested to give at least some of the speeches to their readers, I, at the beginning of the session made arrangement to have one copy of the Globe and Appendix regularly sent to each whig paper in our district.  And yet, with the exception of my own little speech, which was published in two only of the then five, now four whig papers, I do not remember having seen a single speech, or even an extract from one, in any single one of those papers.  With equal and full means on both sides, I will venture that the State Register has thrown before it’s readers more of Locofoco speeches in a month, than all the whig papers of the district, have done of whig speeches during the session.”  Old Abe was honestly pissed at Billy.  It was at this time Lincoln and the Whigs were pushing Zachary Taylor for president.  Despite the fact that Lincoln appeared to favor his hero Clay as the better man, it was party and power first – he was certain Taylor was more electable, and he was right.

Jul. 2, 1848 – To Mary Todd Lincoln (pp494-496).  We’ll end with this one.  “The music in the Capitol grounds on saturdays, or, rather, the interest in it, is dwindling down to nothing.  Yesterday evening the attendance was rather thin.  Our two girls, whom you remember seeing first at Carusis, at the exhibition of the Ethiopian Serenaders, and whose peculiarities were the wearing of black fur bonnets, and never being seen in close company with other ladies, were at the music yesterday.  One of them was attended by their brother, and the other had a member of Congress in tow.  He went home with her; and if I were to guess, I would say, he went away a somewhat altered man—most likely in his pockets, and in some other particular.  The fellow looked conscious of guilt, although I believe he was unconscious that every body around knew who it was that had caught him.”





Lincoln’s Collected Works – Vol. I (Part 1)

10 08 2009

Some thoughts on Volume I of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln:

First, let me say that projects like this are immeasurably more useful than selected works.  Selected works are selected for a reason, by a person or persons, and therefore reflect any prejudices or agendas of the selector/selectors.   Collected works projects typically strive to present all documents.  Also, the editors of Lincoln’s Collected Works used a very light hand in annotation, unlike editors of many selected works, which are often polluted with commentary – even to the point of speculating what the author really meant.

Edited by Roy Bassler, The Collected Works was begun in 1945 and published in 1953, with two subsequent supplemental volumes.  It was the product of the Abraham Lincoln Association and had an editorial advisory board of Lincoln scholars Paul Angle, J. G. Randall and Benjamin P. Thomas.  The task was that of  “collecting, cataloging, reducing to typescript, and annotating each discoverable writing or speech of Abraham Lincoln.”    These include just about everything that could be found that was written in Lincoln’s hand or otherwise documented to have been authored by Lincoln in whole or in part, signed by him, or signed for him by his authority, with the exception of: law cases and associated documents; items Lincoln merely copied in his own hand; acts of Congress; commissions; authorizations; treaties; appointments; etc…, unless there was some special significance to the document.

OK, so, what did I run across in Volume I that caught my attention for whatever reason, and prompted me to attach a (this time) purple Post-It note?  Please keep in mind that I don’t consider myself a Lincoln expert, so if you have any opinion on these notes, feel free to comment.  But keep any comments on current events in your fingers and off the keyboard.  Drawing parallels between historic and current events is a parlor trick, not a talent.

Jan. 11, 1837 – Speech in the Illinois Legislature Concerning the State Bank (pp 65-66) – “I make the assertion boldly, and without fear of contradiction, that no man, who does not hold an office, or does not aspire to one,  has ever found any fault of the Bank.  It has doubled the prices of the products of their farms, and filled their pockets with a sound circulating medium, and they are all well pleased with its operations.  No, Sir, it is the politician who is the first to sound the alarm, (which, by the way, is a false one.)  It is he, [who,] by these unholy means, is endeavoring to blow up a storm that he may ride upon and direct.  It is he, and he alone, that here proposes to spend thousands of the people’s public treasure, for no other advantage to them, than to make valueless in their pockets the reward for their industry.  Mr. Chairman, this movement is exclusively the work of politicians; a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people, and who, to say the most of them, are, taken as a mass, at least on long step removed from honest men.  I say this with the greater freedom because, being a politician myself, none can regard it as personal.”

Apr. 1, 1838 – Letter to Mrs. Orville H. Browning (pp 117-119) – This letter, in which Lincoln describes the circumstances surrounding his engagement to Mary Owens, is a joy.  I’d seen snippets of it before, but never read the whole thing.  Lincoln had not seen Miss Owens in about three years, “…and although I had seen her before, she did not look as my imagination had pictured her.  I knew she was over-size, but she now appeared a fair match for Falstaff; I knew she was called an ‘old maid’, and I felt no doubt of the truth of at least half of the appellation; but now, when I beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother; and this, not from weathered features, for her skin was too full of fat, to permit its contracting into wrinkles; but from her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind of notion that ran in my head, that nothing could have commenced at the size of infancy, and reached her present bulk in less than thirtyfive or forty years; and, in short, I was not all pleased with her.”  Well, it turns out that Miss Owens let Lincoln out of his scrape, much to his chagrin.  Lincoln then scooped Groucho Marx by about 100 years: “I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying; and for this reason; I can never be satisfied with any one who would be block-head enough to have me.”

Dec. 26, 1839 – In this very, very long Speech on the Sub-Treasury (pp 178-179), Lincoln argued to the legislature in favor of the National Bank over the administration’s Sub-Treasury system for transferring and disbursing the revenues of the nation.  At the close, it seems Lincoln was consciously experimenting with writing and delivering a stirring, patriotic rouser.  In addition to establishing Lincoln as the “King of Commas”, I think it’s a bit over the top, and ultimately leaves an impression of insincerity.  “Mr. Lamborn averts to the late elections in the States, and from their results, confidently predicts, that every State in the Union will vote for Mr. Van Buren in the next Presidential election.  Address that argument to cowards and to knaves; with the free and the brave it will effect nothing.  It may be true, if it must, let it.  Many free countries have lost their liberties; and ours may lose hers; but if she shall, let it be my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her.  I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, is belching forth the lava of political corruption, in a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth of the land, bidding fair to leave unscathed no green spot or living thing, while on its bosom are riding like demons on the waves of Hell, the imps of that evil spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those who resist its destroying course, with the hopelessness of their effort; and knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept away.  Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it I never will.  The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.  If I ever feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its Almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country, deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up boldly and alone and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors.  Here, without contemplating consequences, before High Heaven, and in the face of the world, I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty and my love.  And who, that thinks with me, will not fearlessly adopt the oath I take.  Let none faulter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed.  But, if after all, we shall fail, be it so.  We still shall have the proud consolation of saying to our consciences, and to the departed shade of our country’s freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment, and adored of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in death, WE NEVER faultered in defending.”

As this is taking longer than I thought, and I want to stick to the People Magazine theory of article length, I’ll have another post (at least) with more from Volume I later this week.





SHSP – Company C, 4th VA Infantry at Bull Run

9 08 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904, pp. 174-178

Company C, 4th Virginia Infantry, at the First Battle of Manassas, July 18, 1861

THE ORIGINAL REBEL YELL

With Prefatory Note by U. S. Senator, J. W. Daniel

BY J. B. CADDALL

[From the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch, Nov. 27, 1904]

Editor of The Times-Dispatch:

SIR,–In forming his line of battle at first Manassas Jackson placed the 4th Virginia Infantry, under Colonel James F. Preston, in rear of his artillery as an immediate support, and the 27th Virginia Infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel John Echols, in close order directly behind the 4th. The two regiments, except without the line of the 4th, was larger than the 29th, on account of its larger numbers, appeared as one body, four ranks deep. To the left of those two regiments, and almost at a right angle, was the 5th Virginia, under Colonel Kenton Harper, and to their left in the woods, were the 2d Virginia, under Colonel James W. Allen (who was afterwards killed at Gaines’ Mill) and then the 33d Virginia, under Colonel Arthur Cummings, constituted the left flank of the brigade.

When the critical juncture came, Jackson galloped to the right of the Fourth Virginia, called for Colonel Preston, told him in a few sharp words to “order the men behind, up,” and to “charge and drive them to Washington!” “Attention!” “Forward march!” “Left oblique march!” were the commands quickly given; “left oblique,” an order to press the left flank of our artillery, which was between our infantry and Pickett’s and Griffin’s guns, which were to be charged.

Mr. J. B. Caddall, of Pulaski, was then in the 4th Virginia, and he gives an account, afterwards endorsed, with some interesting incidents of this regiment.

It is a notable fact that Jackson’s brigade line furnished the first immovable obstacle to McDowell’s advance, for while all the troops acted gallantly that day those previously engaged had been unable to withstand the weight of numbers thrown against them. The first stand of Jackson and his timely onset, alike checked, halted and repulsed the enemy, and then joined with arriving reinforcements, in driving them from the field.

Mr. Caddall calls attention to the fact that “the rebel yell” made its first appearance in the cheer of Jackson’s men in their charge.

The “four deep” line of the 4th and 27th Virginia was a formation that we do not hear of on any other field. It proved particularly fortunate and efficient on this occasion, but it escapes the notice of most historians, even of Colonel Henderson, one of the most accurate, as well as most wise, graphic and brilliant of military writers. The heaviest loss on Jackson’s regiment fell upon the 27th Virginia, which, namely, 141 killed and wounded, nineteen of whom were killed, and this gallant little regiment was afterwards called “The bloody Twenty-seventh.”

JOHN W. DANIEL

Lynchburg, Va., November 18, 1904

—–

THE PULASKI GUARDS

On the 23d of April, 1861, in the old City Hall, in Richmond, “The Pulaski Guards,” commanded by Captain James A. Walker, was mustered into the service of the State of Virginia by Colonel John B. Baldwin, of Staunton, inspector-general of the militia of the State.

This company, which had been organized a year or more previously, was composed of sixty strong, stalwart young men, ranging in their ages principally from eighteen to thirty years, though there were several older men who had seen service in the United States army in Mexico, and with General Albert Sidney Johnston on the Western plains. Among the veterans were R. D. Gardner, first lieutenant of the company, later noted for his coolness and courage in leading his regiment as lieutenant-colonel into battle; Theophilus J. Cocke, Robert Lorton, John Owens, and David Scantlon, the company’s drummer.

This company, designated as “Company C,” constituted a part of the newly organized 4th Regiment of Virginia infantry, under the command of Colonel James F. Preston, who had been a captain in the Mexican war. The 4th Regiment was ordered to Harper’s Ferry, where it was organized into a brigade, with the 2d, 5th, 27th and 33d Virginia Regiments, and the brigade was known as the 1st Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah. This brigade was commanded by Brigadier-General T. J. Jackson, and constituted a part of General Joseph E. Johnston’s command in the Valley of Virginia on the 18th of July, 1861. General Johnston, with his forces from the Valley, was ordered to join General Beauregard at Manassas. In the disposition of the forces, Beauregard occupied a line along Bull Run on July 21, 1861. General Johnston was on his left, with his line thrown back at something like a right angle below the stone bridge, to protect the left flank of the army. Jackson’s brigade was placed on the left of Hampton, Bartow and Bee, which commands had previously taken positions on the field, and General Jackson made the following disposition of his force: The Rockbridge Artillery, under the Rev. W. N. Pendleton, as captain, which had been attached to the brigade, was placed in position on the crest of the hill to the right of the Henry house, commanding the plateau towards the stone house on the Sudley road. Immediately in the rear of and supporting this battery was the 4th Regiment, under Colonel James F. Preston, with the 27th Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel John Echols, formed a few paces in its rear. The 5th Regiment was on the right of the brigade, and the 33d and 2d Virginia Regiments on the left. This position was maintained for two hours in a broiling July sun in an open field, subjected to a fire from the artillery of the enemy from which the two regiments, 4th and 27th, immediately in rear of the battery, suffered serious loss.

At about 3 o’clock the enemy had pushed forward a strong column of infantry and artillery, and had arrived in close proximity of Jackson’s left flank near the Henry House. At this time the men of the 4th Regiment were lying flat on their faces on the ground in the rear of the battery to escape the heavy artillery fire of the enemy when we were called to attention and ordered forward on the double-quick, and on an oblique move to the left over a stake and brush fence, through a skirt of pines and subject to a heavy fire of musketry. In a very few minutes we were in close contact with the ranks of the enemy of which a very conspicuous body was a Zouave Regiment from New York, with highly decorated uniforms, consisting of loosely fitting red breeches, blue blouses, with Turkish tassel as headgear. Jackson’s men rushed at them, with fixed bayonets, every man yelling at the top of his voice. Here was the origin of the “Rebel yell,” which afterwards became so conspicuous in later battles of the Army of Northern Virginia. The men fired as rapidly as they could load their old smooth-bore muskets, and in a few minutes the Confederates were in full possession of that part of the field, and a fine battery of field artillery, Ricketts, which was in position near the Henry House, was captured.

The charge of Jackson’s brigade on that day turned the tide of battle, which to that time had seemed against the Confederates, and in a short time there was not to be seen an organized body of Federals south of Bull Run, but their forces were in rapid retreat toward Washington.

Company “C,” of which the writer was a member, was the color, or flag company of the regiment, and suffered a heavy loss–seven killed and twenty-three wounded. The flagstaff was shot in two, the color-bearer immediately repairing the damage by lashing a bayonet over the break and proceeded with the regiment in the charge.

David H. Scantlon, who was an enlisted member of Company C, 4th Virginia Infantry (Pulaski Guards), had seen service in the Mexican war and was an expert drummer. He was noted for his orderly habits and his strict obedience and observance of military discipline. He was drummer for the volunteer company before entering the Confederate army, and they had bought for his use a handsome brass kettle drum, which had a clear, ringing tone. Scantlon prized this drum very highly, and at all times exercised for it the most scrupulous care. In the army he was chief drummer for the regiment, and always seemed filled with enthusiasm when, with two other drums and the shrill notes of a couple of fifes playing “Highland Mary,” or “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” he marched at the head of the regiment at dress parade or in review.

Scantlon accompanied the 4th Regiment in the charge of the battle of Manassas, and after the capture of the Rickett’s Battery, the regiment being in some confusion, he was ordered by Colonel Preston to beat “the rally,” which he immediately proceeded to do, after first having turned his back to the enemy. On being asked by an officer near him why he turned his back to the enemy, he replied:

“Do you suppose I want the Yankees to shoot a hole through my new brass drum?”

One more humorous incident: While the 4th was lying in the rear of the Rockbridge Artillery, the men flat on their faces to lessen the exposure to the heavy artillery fire of the enemy, and while their shells were shrieking very close over us or exploding about us, a member of the company was very zealously and earnestly calling upon the Lord for mercy, for protection, and for help in the time of such imminent danger. During his devotions he would tell the Lord that he had been all through Mexico, but he had never seen anything half so bad as that; just then another shell would whistle over in very close proximity, when with the greatest earnestness he would exclaim:

“Oh, Lord, have mercy on me!”

At this point a comrade near his side would respond: “Me, too, Lord,” whether from inability to frame his own supplications or in a spirit of humor, no one then present took occasion to enquire.

J. B. CADDALL

Co. C, 4th Va. Infantry





JCCW – Lt. Horatio B. Reed

8 08 2009

Testimony of Lt. Horatio B. Reed

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 220-221

WASHINGTON, January 28, 1862.

Lieutenant HORATIO B. REED sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What is your rank in the army?

Answer. I am second lieutenant in the fifth regiment of United States artillery.

Question. Where are you now stationed?

Answer. Minor’s Hill, Virginia.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was chief of line of caissons in Griffin’s battery.

Question. Can you tell us the movements of the battery just before it was lost, the orders given, and what led to the loss of the battery?

Answer. Our battery was in battery five times. We first came in battery I do not know by whose orders. I had charge of six caissons, a battery wagon, and forge. I left the battery wagon and forge some distance below where we came in battery the first time. Our battery was again ordered in battery—by whose orders I do not know. General Barry—then Major Barry—came to my captain, and I am under the impression my captain made some protest against going forward on account of the want of support. But we then advanced in a field upon the right. We found that was not where we had been ordered, and we then went upon a hill and came in battery for the fourth time. That was on the left of the house there. We then came in battery on the right of the house. I was chief of the line of caissons, and my position was in the rear. As we advanced upon the hill I wanted to go with the battery, and I left the caissons and went forward. I think we came in battery with two pieces; Lieutenant Hasbrouck in command. There was a body of troops coming up, and I know there was something said about those troops being our own, sent by some one to support us. I have heard since that it was said General Heintzelman sent them, but I did not hear the name mentioned then. We did not fire there until the troops advanced so near that they fired upon us and cut us down.

Question. Why did you not fire upon them?

Answer. We had orders not to fire.

Question. Who gave those orders?

Answer. I am under the impression that General Barry gave them.

Question. Did you hear the order given by General Barry?

Answer. I heard the order given by some one to Captain Griffin and Lieutenant Hasbrouck—and I am under the impression that it was General Barry— not to fire upon that body of men, for the reason that they were troops sent up to support us. Just after that they fired upon us and cut us down.

Question. Was General Barry there at that time?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Could you have broken up that body of men by your battery if you had opened on them?

Answer. We could have done so unless they were better troops than we saw that day; I think we could have swept them off with canister; we could have scattered any body of troops, I think, no matter how efficient—that is, to the best of my belief.

Question. Was Ricketts’ battery captured at the same time?

Answer. I presume it was. My horse was shot from under me at the time, and I was somewhat stunned by falling on my breast. We advanced together, but I never met Captain Ricketts except on that occasion, and he rode up in advance of his battery, and I was in rear of ours.

Question. Did the panic on the field commence immediately after the capture of those batteries?

Answer. Well, sir, the Ellsworth zouaves were ordered to support us, but they ran away before that.

Question. Did you have any support at that time?

Answer. No, sir; we were ordered there without any support but these zouaves.

Question. Did not the marines support you?

Answer. No, sir; they could not get up there. When we first went into battery, we went ahead of them.

Question. Was your battery without support during the day?

Answer. Yes, sir. I went after the 14th New York, and they went up with us for a little time, and then they left; their officers did all they could.

Question. About what time did the loss of your battery happen?

Answer. I have a very faint idea of time on that day, for I did not exactly know what time we came into battery; I was without a watch. We left our camp about 12 o’clock at night, and I suppose we went into action about 11 o’clock; and if we did, I think this was about 4 o’clock.





JCCW – Lt. Charles E. Hazlitt (Hazlett)

6 08 2009

Testimony of Lt. Charles E. Hazlitt

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 218-219

WASHINGTON, January 28, 1862.

Lieutenant CHARLES E. HAZLITT sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What is your rank in the army?

Answer. First lieutenant of artillery.

Question. Where are you now stationed?

Answer. On Minor’s Hill, over in Virginia.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were you in Griffin’s battery?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What was your rank then?

Answer. The same as now.

Question. Can you tell what led to the loss of Griffin’s and Ricketts’ batteries in that battle?

Answer. As far as I am able to judge, it was in consequence of the battery being sent to such an advanced position without any support.

Question. Will you give us the particulars of the loss of that battery—what occurred just previous to the loss of it, and at the time?

Answer. I do not know what occurred just at the moment of the loss, as just before the time the battery was put in position they changed and took up the position where they were lost. Another officer and myself stayed where we were in order to get away two guns that were left there; one had two horses killed, and we had to send for horses; and another one that had a wheel which was broken, and we were engaged in putting on a spare wheel, so that we were not with the battery in the last position. All that I know is that we had been in action some time, and I understood that there was an order for us to move the battery forward up on a little hill where there was a house. I do not know who the order came from. I only knew we were to go there. The officers of the batteries were all averse to going there, as before that we had had no infantry with us that was put there as our support. We were told to go up to this place. We talked about having to go there for some time; and I know it was some time after I was told that we had an order to go that we had not gone. I heard Captain Griffin say that it was no use, and we had to go. We started to go up on this hill. I was in advance of the battery, leading the way, and I had to turn off to a little lane to go to the top of the hill. Just as we turned off the lane in the field, an officer of the enemy on horseback appeared about 100 paces in front. As he saw us turn in, he turned around and beckoned to some one on other side of the hill, and we supposed the enemy were just on the other side of the hill waiting for us, as they had been there just before. An officer hallooed up to me and said we were not to go there, that we had to go to another hill to the right, which was the place we had spoken of going to, where we wished to be sent instead of to the other position. We then started off towards the hill on the right, but I do not think we had got more than half-way up the hill when I was told to go back to the hill we had started for first. We then went back there and came into position. We had been in action there for some time; the fire was exceedingly hot; and being in such close range of the enemy we were losing a great many men and horses. We were in full relief on top of the hill, while they were a little behind the crest of the hill. We presented a better mark for them than they did for us. I do not think there was any order to move the battery around to the right of the little house on the hill. I remember asking Captain Griffin if I could not move the piece I was firing to another place, as it was getting almost too hot there, and I wanted to go to the left. The enemy had just got the range of my gun, and I wanted to move it out of range. The captain said I could do so. And then it is my impression that I asked him if we had better not move the whole battery away from there, as they had got our range so well. And then we started to move. Lieutenant Kensel and myself stayed back to get away the two guns I spoke of. .Just after we got them started off we saw the battery in this other place flying all around, and the horses with the caissons running in every direction. That was the time the battery was lost, but we were not there at the time.

Question. Did you see the regiment that fired at the battery when it was lost?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. You know nothing of the loss of the battery further than you have stated?

Answer. That is all.

Question. You do not know who gave Captain Griffin the order to move forward?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. And nothing of any orders given after that?

Answer. No, sir; only what I have stated that we had orders to go up to his place. We put it off for some time and it was repeated.





October 2009 Civil War Times

5 08 2009

CWI October 2009On Saturday I received my complimentary copies of Civil War Times magazine.  You may ask “Hey Har, hows come you got complimentary copies?  I thought you wrote for America’s Civil War magazine?”  If you’re a Pittsburgher, you may have ended that with “n ‘at” or the more popular spelling, “N @”.  Well, as you can see from the cover, this issue includes “10 Must-See Sites at First Manassas.”  Inside is my contribution to CWT’s “Field Guide” series.  Thanks to the folks at Weider History Group for giving me the opportunity to move up to the Granddaddy and expand my writing resume’ a bit. 

A little explanation is in order.  The title of the article on page 24 (neither the cover blurb nor the article title were of my making) is “The First Manassas You’ve Missed”, which I think more accurately describes where I was going with my list of ten sites to see on and around the battlefield.   While the Jackson Monument, Henry House, Stone House, and Stone Bridge are certainly must-sees, they are also among the few sites seen by most visitor’s to the field, who tend to walk the little Henry House loop, visit the Stone Bridge before or after, and wave at the Stone House in between (or stare at it a long time as they sit in traffic near the Sudley Road-Route 29 intersection).  I’m not going to go into my list – you need to buy the magazine if you want to see that.  But after you’ve read it, please feel free to leave comments on the article here.

Also in this issue:

  • Peter Cozzens on John Rawlins and his relationship with Grant.
  • Earl Hess on The Battle of the Crater and Confederate efforts at turnabout.
  • Robert McGlone on John Brown.
  • Glenn LaFantasie on the strange journey home of a Georgia colonel killed at Gettysburg.
  • Gary Gallagher on the relevance today of D. S. Freeman and Bruce Catton.
  • Mike Musik on Hardee’s Tactics.
  • Reviews, including fellow blogger Jim Schmidt’s Lincoln’s Labels, which looks really good but I’m not allowed to buy any more books on Lincoln.  Visit Jim’s blog here.

This issue should hit news stands next week.





JCCW – Col. William W. Averell

4 08 2009

Testimony of Col. William W. Averell

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 213-218

WASHINGTON, January 28, 1862.

Colonel WILLIAM W. AVERELL sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What is your rank in the army?

Answer. I am lieutenant in the 3d regiment of regular cavalry and colonel of the 3d regiment of Pennsylvania cavalry, now commanding the second cavalry brigade.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. In whose division?

Answer. I was in General Hunter’s division, acting as assistant adjutant general to Colonel Andrew Porter at that time.

Question. What, in your judgment, caused the disaster of that day?

Answer. They commenced, I presume, almost from the time we started from Arlington, from the other side of the river. There were great many causes that combined to lose the day to us. The most apparent cause, however, at the time we first felt we were beaten, that we had to retire—and that we had felt for some time beforehand—was the want of concentration of the troops; the feeling that we ought to have had more men in action at one time.

Question. The want of concentration on the field?

Answer. Yes, sir. We crossed the run with 18,000 men. I do not believe there were over 6,000 or 8,000 actually engaged at any one time.

Question. There were more than that number engaged during the day?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Was it impossible to bring more men into action, or were not the proper steps taken to do so?

Answer. I am unable to say. I was not present at the council the night before, although I was almost immediately made aware by Colonel Porter of all that had taken place in the council. But as to what orders were given to other commanders of divisions or brigades I do not know.

Question. All you know is in relation to the management of your own division on the field?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were or not as many men of your own division brought into battle at any one time as could have been brought in?

Answer. I think they were.

Question. Was not the nature of the battle-field such that it was exceedingly difficult to bring a large body of men into action at any one time?

Answer. I think it was about as fine a battle-field as you can find between here and Richmond. I have no idea there was any better.

Question. Was the field favorable for the movement and manoeuvering of large bodies of men?

Answer. One or two divisions of the size we had then could have manoeuvred very well.

Question. I speak of the field as a whole?

Answer. Well, sir, to come to the causes of the disaster, another cause was perhaps the fall of General Hunter, who was wounded at the beginning of the action. That took Colonel Porter away from his brigade to look after the brigade that Colonel Burnside commanded. It was thrown into confusion, and Burnside was in danger of losing his battery, and came to Colonel Porter for a battalion of regulars to help him. That was diverted from the position it was originally intended for; from the extreme right to the extreme left of our division. They were the flank of the division, thrown out to lash the enemy, as you might say; that battalion being to our extreme right what the knot is to the lash. At the beginning of the action they could have inflicted very severe and telling blows upon the enemy. But as it was they were taken to the extreme left of the division. General Porter went to look after the affairs of that division. The enemy were repulsed and commenced giving way rapidly. In the mean time I had formed the brigade into line, developed it, and deployed it. The report of General Porter will tell you how it was done. The whole line of the centre of the enemy gave way, followed by the wings as far as we could see, and we drove them rapidly back. For the first two or three hours it seemed as though nothing could stop us. At the end of two or three hours, Heintzelman’s column came on the same ground; the 2d Minnesota, the 38th New York, and the 5th and 11th Massachusetts. There was a want of a headquarters somewhere on the field. All the staff officers who knew anything about the position of the enemy had to act without orders. I had the command of Colonel Porter’s brigade for about an hour and a half or two hours. After standing a half an hour in line, under a severe fire, without venturing to give an order to move, I formed the 8th and fourteenth New York in column, and pushed them down the road right straight to the house where we afterwards lost the batteries and everything. They went down in fine style, perfectly cool and in good order. They were going so rapidly that the enemy could not keep the range—were constantly losing the range; and the column was not cut much—had but very few casualties. When they got down to where the road they were on crossed the turnpike, then, by some misunderstanding, an order was sent to them to turn up that road, instead of keeping on according to the previous purpose, and thus those two regiments were diverted to the left. If they had gone up to that hill at the time the enemy were going away, they could, I believe, have taken that house and held that position.  And then Griffin’s battery could have gone up there in safety, and they could have cut off the retreat of those rebels who were flying before Burnside’s brigade and Sykes’s battalion, probably 2,000 or 3,000 of them. Turning up this road kept our troops under the fire of the enemy’s batteries, and subjected them to a desultory fire from those running rebels, which broke them up. The eighth New York broke and never afterwards formed to any extent—not over 200. The field officers left the field and went back off the ground. There were only two officers in that regiment who afterwards displayed any courage and coolness at all that was observable—two field officers, the quartermaster and the major, I think. Griffin’s battery was then without support; and as I was passing by his battery at that time, he called to me and said he was without support, and asked what he should do. I saw the fourteenth New York collecting in little masses over to the left of the field. I rode as rapidly as possible over to them, collected them, and marched them over to the rear of Griffin’s battery.

Question. How many men did the regiment have then?

Answer. It was pretty nearly formed. .

Question. Pretty nearly full?

Answer. Yes, sir; I should think that three-fourths of the men were there. They formed very well, did very well, indeed. The officers behaved well; but, as I said before, this feeling was uppermost: want of orders. Lieutenant Whipple, who was acting assistant adjutant general to the division commander, and reported to Colonel Porter after General Hunter fell, and myself met about this time. We talked over the position of affairs, and came to the conclusion that that hill in front of us was the key-point of the enemy’s position, and must be taken before the battle would be given up. We felt that we had won the battle; but in order to make it decisive and hold the position, we would have to take that hill. We agreed upon a plan which was to collect the regiments in the centre of the field : the fifth and eleventh Massachusetts, the second Minnesota, the thirty-eighth New York, and, I think, Colonel Coffer’s regiment, sixty-ninth, I think—five or six regiments—and to send them up on the hill in line. Put the fourteenth on the right, with the marines and zouaves, and then move them all up together with Griffin’s battery in the centre. That would make an embrasure of troops for the battery to fire through, and they never could take the battery as long as these supports were on its flanks, neither could their cavalry ever charge upon the infantry line as long as the battery was there. We went over to the centre and succeeded in getting these five regiments started. I found Colonel Franklin and two or three other officers there who assisted me. Colonel Franklin was conspicuous. Colonel Wadsworth was also conspicuous in starting these regiments. Just about this time I became aware that General McDowell had come on the field from this fact. We saw the battery moving up on the hill. I had gone to Griffin and notified him of this plan, telling him these troops were going to move up, not to mistake them for the enemy and fire upon them. He had necessarily, from his position, to fire over their heads at one point of the movement, if he kept up his fire. A great many incidents occurred along about that time that I presume you have heard many times.

Question. We want the main statement.

Answer. The battery was seen moving up on the hill, and without any support except the marines and zouaves. The New York 14th was then down in a hollow; they had followed Griffin’s battery for about half the distance. There were two slopes coming down to each other; Griffin was on one slope and the enemy was on the other, which was a little higher than-the one we were on. The 14th went down into the hollow and there waited. The marines and zouaves went up with the battery, and had to cross a deep run with high banks on each side.

Question. Did Ricketts’ battery go with Griffin’s?

Answer. It joined it in this movement. I immediately rode over to the right of the field and inquired where General McDowell was. I found him on top of a little hill in a little field beyond the turnpike. In going over I had spoken to the 14th, and told them to push up to the woods on the right of Griffin’s battery. They went forward finely in line. I followed the 14th, going around the right flank of it, and got up on the hill where General McDowell was. General McDowell called out to the colonel of the 14th to march the regiment by flank. There was probably a delay of two or three minutes in executing that movement. I spoke, then, to the General, and said: “General, if that battery goes up on the hill it will be lost; the woods are full of the enemy, for I have seen them there. I had then been on the ground seven hours watching closely with a glass all the movements. Said I, “For heaven’s sake let the 14th go up in the woods.” Marching them by the flank, changing the movement, was sending them up in rear of the battery, where they could have no effect upon the enemy on the flank. General McDowell said: “Go and take the 14th where you want it.” I immediately went to the 14th, changed its direction to the woods, and told it to take the double quick. The battery was still moving. The general said it was too late to recall the movement. I was so apprehensive that the battery would meet with a disaster there that I rode up to where the battery was. The marines were then sitting down in close column on the ground on the left of the battery. The battery was then getting into position and unlimbering. The fire zouaves were still in rear of the battery. The zouaves immediately commenced a movement, rose up and moved off in rear of the battery, a little to the right. I rode up then to the left of the battery, and there met Colonel Heintzelman. I saw some troops immediately in front of us, not over 75 or 100 yards off. I should say it was at least a regiment; we could see their heads and faces very plainly. I said to Colonel Heintzelman: “What troops are those in front of us?” He was looking off in another direction. I said: “Here, right in front of the battery.” I do not remember the reply he made, but I dropped my reins and took up my glasses to look at them, and just at that moment down came their pieces, rifles and muskets, and probably there never was such a destructive fire for a few minutes. It seemed as though every man and horse of that battery just laid right down and died right off. It was half a minute—it seemed longer—before I could get my horse down out of the fire. I then went to the marines and halloed to them to hurry on. Their officers were standing behind them keeping them in ranks; but the destruction of the battery was so complete that the marines and zouaves seemed to be struck with such astonishment, such consternation, that they could not do anything. There were probably 100 muskets fired from the zouaves and marines—not over that; and they, of course, fired too high. They were below the battery, and where the battery was we could not see more than half of the bodies of the rebels, and what they did fire was ineffective. They began to break and run down the hill, and nothing could stop them, and then the enemy rushed right over there like a lowering cloud—right over the hill.

Question. Why did not the batteries open upon those men in front?

Answer. I do not know from actual operation why they did not. The battery was unlimbered, and the men were standing at the guns. In going down the hill, after the general wreck, I saw an officer galloping along a little in front of me. I recognized Major Barry, and cried out, “Halloo, Barry, is that you?” He said, “Yes,” Said I, “Where is Griffin?” He said, “I am afraid he is killed.” I said, “That battery is lost; I am afraid we are gone up,” or some remark to that effect. Barry then said: “I am to blame for the loss of that battery. I put Griffin there myself.” Well, the 14th, by this time, had reached the woods on the right, The 38th New York, which led the column on the left, which we intended to support when they got there, had reached this little cross-road, and the 14th and 38th held on very well—indeed, splendidly. The enemy came right over the brow of the hill, and their fire was very deadly. They made a rush over the top of the hill, and their cavalry made their appearance at the same time; this 14th and 38th hung on for fifteen minutes there, while all the officers about there tried to collect these scattered troops and get them back to that position to the assistance of the 14th and 38th, and appealed to them in every way that possibly could be done. But it was of no avail. What there was left of the battery, a few limbers and caissons that had live horses to drag them, came galloping down the hill, right through this mass of running troops, and occasionally a horse would fall, and the whole thing would get all tangled up.

Question. Was or not that the beginning of the panic?

Answer. That was the turning point of the affair, right there.

Question. Did you not look upon that as the turning point upon the field?

Answer. Yes, sir; oh! yes, sir. We had eight regiments marching towards that hill then.

Question. Were those batteries properly supported when they moved up the hill?

Answer. No, sir; that is shown from the fact that they were taken.

Question. If they had been properly supported they would not have been taken?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Could they have been properly supported?

Answer. Yes, sir; the troops were there to do it.

Question. Then it was a mistake to order those batteries forward without a proper support—a mistake on the part of some one?

Answer. It must have been so.

Question. Do you know why Captain Griffin did not open fire upon the regiment in front of them?

Answer. It was generally understood that these troops were mistaken.

Question. By whom was the mistake made?

Answer. It was understood that these troops were mistaken for our own, and Captain Griffin was ordered not to fire. My impression is that it was the chief of artillery on the field who made the mistake.

Question. Who was the chief of artillery?

Answer. Major Barry.

Question. General Franklin’s brigade came on after that, did they?

Answer. Well, sir, they were partially on the field then. I do not know exactly what troops composed his brigade. He was there himself. Then Sykes’s battalion moved across and occupied this hill in the middle ground, and held it. Our troops then scattered all over the battle-field, their backs turned towards the enemy, and all going to the rear.

Question. The capture of that battery, and the rapid retreat of the horses and men in the vicinity of the battery, tended to create confusion among all those in the rear?

Answer. Yes, sir; that taken in connexion with the exhaustion of the men. There was no water for the men to drink about there, except in the rear, and a great many were dying of thirst. Everybody wanted water. Well, sir, it was a pretty hot day; and it was probably a little unfortunate for us that the water was in the rear of the field of battle. We then came back to our first position on the field of battle. If we had had a fresh division there, or a fresh brigade there, we could have made a stand. Johnston’s forces—that is, I have been told since they were Johnston’s forces—made their appearance on the field at that time.

Question. Just at the time of the loss of the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. They deployed in several lines on our extreme right, and with the rapidity, apparently, of fresh troops. The moral effect of that deployment had a great deal to do with the panic among our troops.

Question. That happening at the same time with the loss of the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. If we had not lost the batteries, and had had a fresh brigade there, we could have made a stand there, because our troops formed very well back on our first position. The 27th New York formed first, and stood steady (though the men were very much exhausted) for nearly half an hour, while the other fragments of regiments gathered in their places about them, the enemy’s artillery throwing projectiles right through us all the while. We had no artillery to reply to them, only a section of the battery of Captain Arnold. We had no artillery, no fresh troops, and could not make a stand, but were forced to retire.

Question. Then you attribute the disasters of the day to the loss of Griffin’s and Ricketts’ batteries, the great exhaustion of the men from the want of water, and the fact that Johnston’s troops came on the field fresh just at the tune of the loss of the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. Those three causes alone would have been sufficient to have defeated us. But there were many other minor causes that had their effect. There was a want of discipline in our troops.

Question. The troops were not familiar with their officers?

Answer. Yes, sir; that was one thing. That they could have stood was shown in the way that Sykes’s battalion stood, because they were disciplined, and came off the field in regular order.








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