William Fitzhugh Lee

17 10 2011

Here’s an interesting bit on William Fitzhugh Lee of the 33rd VA, mortally wounded at First Bull Run. Below are images I recorded of his grave in Elmwood Cemetery, Shepherdstown, WV, a few years ago.

 





Trophies From the Field Sent to New Orleans

14 10 2011

The First Trophy From Manassas

The two brothers De L’Isle, members of the Crescent Blues, now in Virginia, have sent to their brothers here a medicine chest, a blanket, an overcoat, and an india rubber spread to place between the ground and the soldier’s blanket, which they secured from the debris of the battle field of Manassas. The articles bear the name of a long-legged soldier belonging to a regiment from down the east State of Maine. They may be seen at the office of the Fire Alarm Telegraph, City Hall.

The Daily Delta, 7/30/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 111, p. 125

Notes





The Washington Artillery at Blackburn’s Ford

14 10 2011

The Battle at Bull Run.
Special Correspondence of The Delta.
Richmond July 20th; 1861.

The battle of Bull Run was fought day before yesterday, and our Artillery were engaged from 2, O’clock in the afternoon until 5, P. M. At half past four Captain Eschelman was wounded in the lower portion of the calf of the leg. A musket ball passed through the muscle, making a very ragged wound, and was up to last night very painful, attended with some fever. To-day, 12, M. I have just left him, and he said he had been since daybreak comparatively free from pain, and felt quite well. He will soon recover, and it is hoped will suffer but little from this time.

He is very well situated, at Dr. Deane’s residence, having been brought here last evening, with all the Artillery men that were wounded.

Muse, of Muse Bros., who died last night, was struck near the shoulder. Henry H. Baker has a ball in the calf of the leg. A young man, whose brother is a partner of Hagerty & Bros., had a ball through the flesh of the thigh, and one other a cut in the face. All are doing well and will recover very soon.

Walton, Slocomb, and two companies of the command were stationed three miles off, where it was supposed the enemy would make the attack, and saw nothing of the fight, and consequently were all safe. Captain Garnett, of this State, and Captain Eschelman wee in command of the seven guns we had in service, and raked the enemy down like grass, especially at the  first fire; knocked one of Sherman’s guns into fragments, and sent some four shot directly into their solid advanced column, driving limbs and bodies sky high. Sherman’s great battery at 5, O’clock was silenced, and commenced their retreat. Our boys gave them a parting shot and then a tremendous yell which finished the fight.

None of the Artillery men were hurt until just before the battle ended, ,so that all had a fair chance that commenced the fight to show indomitable courage and coolness. The enemy had engaged in the battle from 5,000 to 6,000 men and we had 3,000. Our wounded and dead 60, theirs over 500. Drs. Drew, Choppin, Beard, and several others from the different regiments, were on the ground. Beauregard commanded in person on the field, being mounted, of course.

The Daily Delta, 7/27/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 111, pp. 46-47.





How to Make a Zouave

13 10 2011

We are responsible for the following recipe for making a zouave. The real zouave (from the South) are now in Virginia, and the doubtful reader may appeal to them. It may be that we got our information from one of the French drill sergeants himself. Thus: “Take the Recruit – keeping him forty-eight hours – nothing to eat; then march him forty-eight hours – nothing to eat; then let him fight like h-ll forty-eight hours – nothing to eat; By dam, he one Zouave.”

Richmond Enquirer
New Orleans Commercial Bulletin, 7/18/1861
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 111, p. 35.





A Big “Thanks” and Coming Up Next

13 10 2011

I’m finished with the Hampton’s Legion and Rhode Island letters that Friend of Bull Runnings (FOBR) John Hennessy sent in. Thanks so much to John, he’s made this site so much more useful and has kicked me back onto the path of righteousness – that is, got me back to doing what I’m supposed to be doing here. Feel free to use FOBR on your resume and correspondence from here on out (time to order new stationery). I have one more item he sent that’s not exactly a letter, not exactly a memoir, not exactly a newspaper article, but is really all three so I have to figure out how to classify it first.

Next on my list is to start on some great stuff sent to me by FOBR Richard Holloway, archivist for the Louisiana National Guard at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, LA. IIRC, back in the 1930s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) gathered up all mentions of Louisiana militia in Louisiana newspapers from forever. These were transcribed and kept at the National Guard archives at Jackson Barracks. Some of these volumes were damaged as a result of Hurricane Katrina and have been preserved, but the Barracks is still undergoing repairs. The long and short of it is that Richard (who it turns out is related to the late Art Bergeron) was kind enough to scan and send all the Civil War related transcriptions. And that’s what I’ll be tackling next. I’m not sure what all is in there, if any letters are included or if it’s all articles, but expect the first one some time today.





Preview: Elizabeth Leonard, “Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally”

13 10 2011

I’m reading Elizabeth Leonard’s Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky right now and thoroughly enjoying it. The preface of this book is the real hook. A while back I interviewed Prof. Leonard about Men of Color: To Arms, and thought I’d go straight to the source to give you all a reason to read a biography of a man about whom I think it’s safe to say most of my readers know very little. She replied promptly, and I’ll let her speak for herself:

I first encountered Joseph Holt when I was doing the research for my book Yankee Women (1994), almost twenty years ago. Holt had written a lengthy legal brief explaining to Andrew Johnson (who was by then president) why it did not make sense to permit Mary Walker, a woman doctor who had served as a contract surgeon for the Union army during the last year of the war, to continue with the army once the war was over, though she very much wanted to do so. Holt’s reasoning was that there was no precedent for a woman doctor in the peacetime army, and therefore she should be dismissed. But he did suggest that Johnson award her the Congressional Medal of Honor first, which he did. Back then, all I knew was that I was furious at this guy Joseph Holt for making it impossible for Mary Walker to remain with the army! But later, when I was doing the research for my book Lincoln’s Avengers (2004), I came to know Holt much better in the context of the Lincoln assassination and its aftermath, and I came to respect him deeply, despite his rather prickly personality and some serious blunders he made in connection with the assassination conspiracy trial. As I made my way through his massive archive in the Library of Congress, I also learned, to my great surprise, that he and Mary Walker had become friends many years after the war: they had a cordial correspondence, and occasionally ran into each other in Washington!

I guess one of the things that intrigues me most about Holt is that he was such a complex character — a former slaveholder who became a dedicated supporter of Emancipation, a southerner whose whole family went with the Confederacy while he remained unwaveringly committed to the Union, a prickly character whom some people despised, but whom others adored. He’s a conundrum, and I’m still working out my own thoughts about him, even though I’ve spent years researching and writing his biography.

I hope that readers will come away from Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally with a much richer understanding of, and appreciation for, this very complicated man. Joseph Holt has been largely forgotten by history: even in his home state of Kentucky very few people have ever even heard of him! Moreover, when he is “remembered” by anyone, it is usually only in the context of the Lincoln assassination conspiracy trial and in what I consider an utterly simplistic and negative way (see the film “The Conspirator” for an example), which denies some of the deeper issues at stake during that trial, and also denies the extent of Holt’s many other contributions to the nation’s history, the Union’s survival, and postwar efforts to ensure that the Confederacy did not rise again and that the freedpeople’s rights and long-term welfare were protected. He deserves a lot better from history!

There is an effort now to try to preserve the Holt family home in Stephensport, Kentucky, and I asked Prof. Leonard about how folks can help:

I am not sure about the current status of the rehab of his house, though I know that there are a few very dedicated folks in Breckinridge County who are trying to restore the place. But it is a terrible mess: left uninhabited for many years, it suffered from neglect, vandalism, and bad weather. The job of restoring it will be a huge and expensive one, but I hope that it will be a success in the end, because it must have been a magnificent place at one time, and you can really feel that when you see it. If anyone is interested, they can go to this website for more information. But please be advised: the information on that website about Holt’s life and family is not entirely accurate, having been written before my book appeared, and there is a photograph on the site that seems to be intended as a photograph of Holt, but is definitely not him — I think it must have been one of his black servants.

Give Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally a shot. I think you’ll be glad you did. And here’s a quick video clip of her discussing the book on C-Span.





Lt . Luther C. Warner, Co. C, 1st Rhode Island Infantry, On the Battle

12 10 2011

Letter from Lieut. Warner.

We are gratified to be able to print this afternoon the following extracts from a private letter received last evening from Lieut. L. C. Warner, of Company C, First Regiment. He gives a graphic and evidently truthful account of Rhode Island’s participation in the fight of last Sunday, and the intelligent reader will readily gleam from its perusal a confirmation of a remark made to Mr. Wm. E. Hamlin by one of the soldiers after the battle, that Lieut. Warner was one of the bravest men on the field.

Camp Sprague,
Washington, D. C., July 24, 1861.

Lewis Pierce has just called on me with sad news from you, and brings a paper recording my death first and afterwards a prisoner. My first duty after arriving at Washington was to telegraph you of my safety. I went to the office and immediately sent a despatch. Our company supposed I was lost, until I came into camp. After we came off the field of battle our company stacked arms near a piece of woods. There were two of our men missing, one of whom I knew was wounded. I stayed longer than I was aware of, helping to attend the dying and suffering, also in getting Capt. Prescott’s body off the field, not thinking of any retreat being ordered, as we were victorious on our part of the field.

I was absent just an hour, and then started to join our Regiment, but when I got down to where we stacked our muskets, they were all gone, and the rebels were firing shells and grape after them as they were retreating. I started after them upon the run, running nearly two miles. I got sight of the regiment, and renewed my exertions to overtake them, but I was so exhausted I could not, and getting over a fence, which adjoined a piece of woods, I stumbled and fell, completely exhausted and nearly melted. I could not arise but lay there fully one hour. I then started alone through the woods, not knowing where I should get to, but I found one path on which we came, before it got too dark, and followed on. I picked up a Sharpe’s rifle, cartridge box, balls, &c. which some poor tired soldier had left, loading the same, determined to defend myself when I came out of the seven miles long woods. I saw several soldiers of other regiments, and continually overtaking them all along, until we had a party of about thirty. When near Bull’s Run Bridge we were fired upon by some of the rebel scouts and one of our men killed. We returned their fire with deadly effect, for we saw three of their number fall. The bridge was covered with dead men, horses, teams, &c. in one mass, so much so that we could not cross where the rebels shelled our forces on their retreat.

We waded across the river waist deep. After going half a mile we came upon several hundred of our men resting. Hardly had I reached them before the shells began to come again from the rebels from a high hill on our right. The men fired and then began to retreat in confusion again. I was alone until I reached Centreville. Here some three regiments who were held in reserve were drawn up in line of battle to meet the enemy if they advanced. The mad all they could of our retreating ones join them. Finding I was an officer they mounted me on a horse and I rallied the broken columns all I could, and had some four or five hundred soon in line. I talked, begged and plead with them to make a stand and give the rebels one more volley. Did not have to wait long before the shells came, but it was so dark they fell short of us. After firing a few times they ceased, when all of a sudden, from the woods on our left, came the Black Cavalry. When near enough we poured three volleys into them which must have killed many for they fled in haste. Then came the shells again, one of which exploded near me killing my horse, and I fell headlong but without a hurt excepting a slight scratch. It was a narrow chance. They now ceased firing, so I concluded to press forward.

I still clung to my rifle and started again. I had not gone but a short distance before I had a chance to use it upon one of their horsemen who fired at me on the run. He tumbled off dead, I think. I had hardly time to load again before another one dashed at me. I made him bite the dust. He uttered a tearful oath as he fell. I looked at him as he lay with the moon shining upon him, and he looked more like a devil than a human being.

I tried for some time to catch his horse, but I was too tired to run. He was a noble animal, but I think rather wild. Again I trudged along, taking to the woods all I could, then cross lots, keeping near the road for my guide, until I came to Fairfax Court House. Here there were several thousands of our soldiers resting. We left this place well guarded. Here I met one of the Band, and we started together for Washington. Clinging to my rifle, I travelled all night long, resting only twice to eat three crackers which I had in my knapsack, the first food I had put into my mouth since the evening before.

Day broke at last, when our journey was not accomplished. My feet swelled so that I had to take off my shoes and walked over ten miles barefoot. At 20 minutes past 11 o’clock I reached Fort Corcoran, on Arlington Heights, completely used up. It began to rain at 6 A. M., and I was wet through. I had to throw away my blanket and coat in order to carry my rifle. Col. Baker at the Fort took me into his tent, and gave me dry clothes, refreshments, &c. Then I sought rest and did not awake till after dark, I could not cross the river then and therefore remained. I returned yesterday morning and as I remarked in my letter this morning, immediately called at the telegraph office to apprize you of my safety, although I was so lame it was most impossible for me to walk.

This all seems like fiction, as I wrote you this morning, but it’s true. Our men were glad enough to see me, and the officers, too, for they thought me lost, as I was a whole day behind them. I am now getting along nicely.

This truth is prominent: We (the R. I. troops) were the first in the field; first in the fight, and the last to retreat. Tell everybody of this, for it’s so.

Providence Evening Press 7/27/1861

Clipping Image








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