A Trophy From Manassas (Co. B, 8th Louisiana Infantry)

24 10 2011

Captain A Larose, of the Bienville Rifles, has sent home to Hon. S. P. Delabarre, of this city, the flagstaff and tassel of the notorious New York Zouave Regiment, which will be presented to the Sons of Louisiana Association, at the request of the captors.

The company are all in good health, and ready to meet and help run the enemy again.

The Daily Delta, 8/7/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 113, p. 54.





L. D., Co. B, 7th Louisiana Infantry, On the Battle

21 10 2011

From One Of Our Boys

The following letter was written to one of our citizens by a young soldier in Hays’s Regiment, on the paper taken from the knapsack of one of the New York Zouaves, who fell on the field of Manassas. The paper has at the heading a beautiful picture of the stars and stripes, and the envelope is enameled with a similar picture, and a stanza from the Star Spangled Banner.

The writer says that he was loaded down with the spoils of victory, as Gen. Scott was at Cerro Gordo; that he had several valuable guns, pistols, etc., and most curious of all the trophies, had captured a box of robes de chambre, presented to the Zouaves by the ladies of New York City. He says that his whole company will have a gown apiece, and that they will be very comfortable to sleep in camp:

Stone Bridge,
July 23, 1861.

I fully intended writing you yesterday, but about 9 O’clock, on the evening of the battle, it commenced to rain, and continued throughout the whole of the following day, and we had no covering but the dark heavens. You, of course, know of our glorious victory. It was an open field and no favor, just what the Tribune prayed for, I can only tell you of that part of the fight in which our brigade was concerned.

The fight extended for some two or three miles; morning broke without a cloud; Dame Nature seemed to have put on her Sunday habiliments; we were encamped on a road leading to Bull Run, about 3 miles from where we fought on Wednesday, (Blackburn’s Ford); had just finished breakfast (hard biscuit and raw bacon,) When we heard a cannon fired; immediately, “fall in!” was heard, and we knew that the long wished for battle had commenced.

After half an hour’s walking the enemy saw us, and welcomed us with a perfect shower of shell and cannon balls. They fired badly, and the regimental loss was one killed and five wounded. We remained at Bull Run until 12, noon, under fire the whole time, from 7 A.M., when we were ordered to push on to this place to support Beauregard.

As rapidly as possible nine miles were gotten over, and in two hours we were again on the Battlefield. We ran the whole way, and, without rest formed into line, to charge a Federal  regiment on our front. They, however, did not wait for us to advance more than a quarter of a mile, but taking us for fresh troops, gave ground.

The Newtown Artillery galloped round to our left, and gave them a perfect shower of balls. Their firing was the admiration of all, and as each leaden messenger struck the front of the retiring columns, cheer after cheer went up from our lines.

At least the poor fellows, unable to stand the awful havoc, fairly turned and fled. Then it would have done your heart good to have heard the shouts Victory! Victory! None thought of how hard we had worked, every man felt new life and energy.

We went at a fair run after them, but never saw them after they entered the wood in front. The cavalry dashed after them, and the day was our own.

The field was covered with the killed and wounded. Our regiment, (7th.) was very fortunate, under fire for seven hours, and only 25 reported killed and wounded.

In our company, (B, Crescent Rifles) one wounded; Corporal Fisher, received a flesh wound; a spent ball struck me on the thumb. It is wonderful that no more of our regiment were killed or wounded as a prisoner told me they saw us coming, and ranged their guns to make sure of us when we passed the open field.

Their best troops were against us all day; the ground, for miles, is strewn with arms, blankets, haversacks, etc.,

This paper was the property of a Fire Zouaves from whose haversack I also made my supper, we having pitched all our things away on the road. I have one of the dressing gowns, presented by the ladies of New York to the soldiers; also, a bayonet for your father’s musket, taken from the above mentioned Zouave. I will send them as soon as I can get a chance. I would have sent the rifle, but was unable to carry it, with so much else.

After the battle, Jeff. Davis reviewed us, with loud cheers all along the lines. I was near him, and this was word for word all he said:

“Soldiers, your country owes you a debt of gratitude, and believe me, every heart is proud of you.”

The morning after the battle, Lieut. Knox and myself went over the field, and such a scene, – men and horses lying together, their blood mingling in one stream. Some poor wounded fellows had been left in the rain all night. We did what we could for them, friend and foe alike, and the simple “God bless you, sir,” was worth more than all the spoils on the field to me.

To-morrow, we will have been a week on the march. Such weather! not a dry day; no clothes to change, and nothing but our blankets to cover us; our food, hard crackers and raw bacon, as we cannot always make fires, for the enemy would see them, but not a murmur was heard for it can’t be helped, and we are here to protect all that we hold most dear.

L. D.

The Daily Delta, 8/1/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 113, pp. 10-15.





“Louisiana”, On Wheat’s Battalion in the Battle

20 10 2011

Major Wheat’s Battalion

We find the following interesting communication in the Richmond Dispatch of the 26th inst.:

To the Editor of
the Dispatch:

The gallant Col. Wheat is not dead, as was reported yesterday, but strong hopes are entertained for his recovery. All Louisiana, and I trust all lovers of heroism in the Confederate States, will say amen to the prayer, that he and all his wounded compatriots in arms may be restored to the service of their country, to their families and friends, long to live and enjoy the honors due to their dauntless spirits.

I have just a letter from Capt. Geo. McCausland, Aid to Gen. Evans, written on behalf of Major Wheat, to a relative of Lieut. Allen C. Dickinson, Adjutant of Wheat’s Battalion.

For the information of the family and friends of Lieut. Dickinson, I extract a portion of the letter, viz: “He (Major Wheat) deeply regrets to say that our dear friend (Lieut. D.) was so unfortunate as to receive a wound, which, slight as it is, will prevent him, for some time, from rendering those services now so needed by our country.

The wound is in the leg, and although very painful, is not dangerous. To one who knows Lieut. D. as he supposes you do, it is unnecessary to say that he received the wound in the front, fighting as a soldier and a Southerner. With renewed assurances of the slightness of the wound, and of his appreciation of Lieut. Dickinson’s gallantry, he begs you to feel no uneasiness on his account.”

Lieut. Dickinson is a native of Caroline County, Virginia, a relative of the families of Brashear, Magruder and Anderson.

For some years he has resided in New Orleans, and at an early period joined a company of Louisianians to fight for the liberties of his country. He fought with his battalion, which was on the extreme left of our army and in the hottest of the contest, until he was wounded.

His horse having been killed under him, he was on foot with sword in one hand and revolver in the other, about fifty yards from the enemy, when a Minie ball struck him. He fell and lay over an hour, when fortunately, Gen. Beauregard and staff, and Capt. McCausland, passed. The generous McCausland dismounted and placed Dickinson on his horse.

Of the bravery of Lieut. D., it is not necessary to say a word, when a man so well noted for chivalry as Robert Wheat has said that he appreciated the gallantry of his Adjutant. Lieut. D. is doing well and is enjoying the kind care and hospitality of Mr. Waggoner and family, on Clay street, in this city.

Maj. Wheat’s battalion fought on the extreme left, where the battle raged hottest. Although only 400 strong, they, with a Georgia regiment, charged a column of Federalists, mostly regulars, of 8000, When the battle was over, less than half responded to the call, and some of them are wounded.

When and where all were brave almost to a fault, it would seem invidious to discriminate. But from the position of the battalion, and the known courage of its leader, officers and men, the bloody result might have been anticipated. It is said of one of the companies that, upon reaching the enemy’s column, they threw down their rifles, (having no bayonets,) drew their bowie-knives, and cut their way through the enemy with a loss of two thirds of the company.

Such was the dauntless bravery of Wheat’s battalion, and such is the heroism of the Confederate army.

Whilst we deeply mourn the honored dead, we rejoice that they died on the field of glory, and that by their conduct and their fall, unerring proof has been given to the enemy and the world that the Confederate States cannot be subjugated.

Louisiana.

The Daily Delta, 7/31/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 111, pp. 130-134.





Adam Goodheart, “1861”

19 10 2011

Adam Goodheart speaks for the LOC on his excellent 1861: Civil War Awakening:





First Bull Run Sesqui Video

18 10 2011

NPS video promo Trial By Fire recaps sesqui events.

See more here.





Interview: James S. Price, “The Battle of New Market Heights”

18 10 2011

Public historian and blogger James S. “Jimmy” Price is the author of the recently released The Battle of New Market Heights: Freedom Will be Theirs by the Sword. I’ve never met Jimmy, but am acquainted with him via his blog and Facebook. So when I learned of this new study of a relatively little known engagement involving US Colored Troops I was intrigued and thought maybe some of you would be, too. So I shamelessly begged a copy, looked it over, and did my thing.

BR: Jimmy, we usually start off here with a little background information. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

JP: I had the great privilege of being born in the best sports town in America (and by that, of course, I mean Pittsburgh, PA). My family moved to Richmond when I was five years old, which was just in time for the 125th anniversary of the Civil War. History soon became my passion and I got involved with re-enacting at the age of 15. I was also fortunate enough to have wonderful parents who supported me while I made peanuts working at some local museums and battlefields. I was able to gain some great work experience at places like Petersburg National Battlefield and Richmond National Battlefield Park. This opened the door to doing more serious work at Pamplin Historical Park and The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. At the same time I was pursuing an academic career in history, completing my undergraduate work at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005 and grad school at Norwich University in 2009. I currently live in Fredericksburg with my beautiful wife and our two kids and I’m working with John Hennessy and the fabulous staff at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park developing a web-based curriculum entitled “Community at War.”

BR: What got you interested in the Civil War as a line of study?

JP: My Dad taking me to the battlefields around Richmond initially spurred my interest. Shortly after that I got a free subscription to the Time Life Civil War series and managed to get my hands on a copy of the American Heritage History of the Civil War by Bruce Catton. After that it was game over, and I knew that I wanted to pursue Civil War history as a career. Over a decade later when I came to work for the County of Henrico, I had to spend a lot of time familiarizing myself with the battles that took place there, and it was then that I did my first real research into the Battle of New Market Heights (I had known about it since my days at Richmond National Battlefield, but hadn’t done any significant research). This prompted me to launch The Sable Arm: A Blog Dedicated to the United States Colored Troops of the Civil War Era as a means to force myself to learn more about USCTs and the battle that led to fourteen of them receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.

BR: New Market Heights is not an action that pops to the top of most Civil War enthusiasts list of well-known engagements. What first got you interested in it?

JP:  The thing that really piqued my interest at first was the amount of Medals of Honor that were issued for just one action. Add the fact that they were issued to African-American troops and I started to think that this battle was at least as important as the more famous charge of the 54th Massachusetts at Battery Wagner that was immortalized in the motion picture Glory. To have United States Colored Troops attacking a position that was defended by some of Lee’s best troops within a few short miles of the Confederate capital seemed to be a story worthy of more exploration.

BR: Since some readers may not be familiar with the battle, how about a brief synopsis?

JP: New Market Heights was part of a larger two-day action known today as the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, fought on September 29-30, 1864. It took place during the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign of 1864-65. In late September of 1864, Grant prepared an offensive to strike at Petersburg, prevent Robert E. Lee from reinforcing his troops in the Shenandoah Valley, and – if possible – seize the city of Richmond. Grant planned a two-pronged assault with the Army of the Potomac striking at Petersburg while Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s Army of the James struck north of the James River to threaten the rebel capital. Spearheading one prong of this attack would be Brig. Gen. Charles Paine’s Third Division of the XVIII Corps, a unit comprised entirely of United States Colored Troops. Their objective would be New Market Heights. Early on the morning of the 29th, Paine designated Col. Samuel A. Duncan’s 3rd Brigade to take New Market Heights. Duncan’s men deployed in a skirmish line 200 yards long and soon encountered obstacles that hampered their movement. A marshy stream called Four Mile Creek ran across their line of advance and slashing, abatis, and chevaux-de-frise blocked access to the Rebel entrenchments. Duncan’s men advanced into the thick fog and, in the words of one survivor, were “all cut to pieces.” Intense musket and artillery fire shredded the ranks of the oncoming Federals and soon Col. Duncan was down with four wounds. His brigade was forced to withdraw, losing 387 of its 750 effectives. Paine then sent in his 2nd Brigade under the command of Col. Alonzo G. Draper. As the sun began to rise, Draper’s men went in over the same ground that Duncan’s men had crossed and they were soon entangled in the slashing. For thirty brutal minutes, Draper’s men endured a barrage from the Confederate lines before the Confederates began to withdraw.  Draper would lose 447 out of his 1,300 men. They had taken New Market Heights, but as the day’s events played out, they would not capture Richmond. That being said, one former Confederate did write that “upon [the] 29th [of] September, Richmond came nearer being captured, and that, too, by negro troops, than it ever did during the whole war.”  While Butler met with only partial success that day, the fighting prowess of the African-American soldiers under his command was put on full display for all to see. Throughout the entire course of the war, only eighteen black soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. Of that number, fourteen were awarded to the black troops who stormed New Market Heights.

BR: What did your research turn up that particularly surprised you?

JP: I was happy to find some unpublished accounts that backed up some of the more famous incidents that have been called into question. For instance, the story has always gone that Butler rode up to the men of Duncan’s brigade who were about to step off and exhorted them that their battle cry should be “Remember Fort Pillow!” People tend to doubt anything that Butler claims to have said or done, but I did find an account from a Texan who spoke about the attacking USCTs shouting “Remember Fort Pillow!” and how mad that made him. I was also happy to find an unpublished account from Alexander Kelly, who was a member of the 6th USCT and one of the Medal of Honor recipients. That, plus some great photographs from the collection of a gentleman named Rob Lyon that he graciously allowed me to reproduce in the book were very pleasant surprises.

BR: If your work impacts how the Battle of New Market Heights is remembered in one way, what would you hope that is?

JP: Well, the longstanding tradition about New Market Heights is that, while the USCTs displayed bravery and heroism during the assault, we shouldn’t read too much into the fact that there were 14 Medals of Honor awarded to those who fought there. Skeptics claim that the nefarious Beast Butler hatched up the idea of New Market Heights being a grand victory to further his political interests. I’ve read one author who referred to the idea of the black troops winning a legitimate victory at New Market Heights as being “hoopla” while another refers to this notion as “militarily irrelevant Negrophilia.” I hope that folks who read my book will view the battle in a more balanced light.

BR: Can you describe your research and writing process?

JP: In terms of researching USCTs, Record Group 94 at the National Archives and Records Administration is a treasure trove of good information. Richmond National Battlefield had been compiling information on New Market Heights for over 20 years, and I was fortunate enough to be able to go through every scrap of paper they had concerning the battle. I was also astonished at how many good sources I could find through Google books and http://www.archive.org/, www.footnote.com, and Accessible Archives. I used the information gathered through these various sources to guide the rest of my research and then had to sift through what I could use and what I had to leave behind (keep in mind I was working with a 40,000 word limit).

BR: What’s next for you?

JP: Well, I have a few things cookin’ on my plate right now. I’ve had my first two experiences with Hollywood as of late. I had the privilege of serving as a historical consultant for the upcoming miniseries To Appomattox, which was a great experience. I reviewed the scenes having to do with USCTs and, from what I’ve seen of the script, this is going to be a fine production. I’m also working as one of the extras in the upcoming Lincoln film, which gives me the ability to brag that I’ve been in the same room as Steven Spielberg. And in other (breaking) news, I recently just signed a contract for my second book with The History Press! This time I will be examining the First Battle of Deep Bottom, fought from July 27-29, 1864, where Winfield Scott Hancock and Phillip H. Sheridan both failed to add any battlefield laurels to their respective careers. Life is busy!

It sounds busy! Pick up a copy of The Battle of New Market Heights. It’s a quick read at just over 100 pages, nicely illustrated with photos, drawings, and maps. Jimmy Price has helped bring this event into sharper focus.





Image Found!

17 10 2011

A while back in this post I asked for some assistance in finding images for Bull Run commanders. I got my first response yesterday from reader Bruce Baryla, who informed me that he had located a CDV of Col. George W. McLean of the 2nd NJ Infantry. The image is currently available for purchase sold on eBay here, where you’ll also find his biographical sketch of McLean. Bruce has given me permission to reproduce the image, and here it is below.

I still need all of these:

  • Capt. Otis Tillinghast
  • Surgeon William Shakespeare King
  • Capt. Josiah Howard Carlisle – 2nd US Arty
  • Capt. James Kelly – 69th NYSM
  • Lt. Col. Henry Peck – 2nd Wisc Vols
  • Maj. Adolphus Williams – 2nd Mich Inf
  • Lt. Col. Ambrose Stevens – 3rd Mich Inf
  • Lt. John Edwards – 1st US Arty
  • Col. George Lyons – 8th NYSM
  • Major John G. Reynolds USMC
  • Col. George Clark, Jr – 11th Mass Inf
  • Maj. Alonzo F. Bidwell – 1st Mich Inf
  • Maj. Henry Genet Staples – 3rd Maine Inf
  • Col. Adolphus J. Johnson – 1st NJSM
  • Col. Henry M. Baker – 2nd NJSM
  • Col. William Napton – 3rd NJSM
  • Col. Matthew Miller – 4th NJSM
  • Col. William R. Montgomery – 1st NJ Inf
  • Col. George W. McLean – 2nd NJ Inf (FOUND! Thanks, reader Bruce Baryla)
  • Co. Max Einstein – 27th PA Inf
  • Capt. C. Brookwood – Brookwood’s (Varian’s) NY Battery
  • Col. William Ayrault Jackson – 18th NY Inf
  • Col. Calvin Edward Platt – 31st NY Inf







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