Wheat’s Battalion at Stone Bridge

29 11 2011

Wheat’s Battalion at Stone Bridge

Although we have made great exertions to procure for the readers of the Bee a full report of the killed and wounded Louisianians in the great battle of Manassas Plains, it has been impossible as yet to obtain it at any outlay of trouble or expense of the Washington Artillery, all of heard; of Hayes Seventh Regiment we have scattering information of different companies; the Sixth, Colonel Seymour has few or no casualties; we know nothing concerning Colonel Kelly’s  Eight, but believe it suffered very little. Of the special battalion, under Major Robert C. Wheat, we know, also, that from its position and the necessities of the crisis, it was called upon to sacrifice itself. How it answered to the call of duty, its decimated ranks and shattered column can better tell. Its only two field officers, Major Wheat and Adjutant Dickinson, are both badly wounded at Richmond. Dickinson reported that of its four hundred men, only a quarter are left, but a correspondent who had better [means] of information writes that at roll-call, after the battle, less than half answered to their names, and that many of those who did were wounded. With the gallant Georgia Eight who suffered nearly as bad, our dauntless man charged a whole division of the enemy, composing their picked men, regulars Fire Zouaves, and their onset is described by an eye-witness “terrific”. The Tiger Rifles having no bayonets to their Mississippi Rifles, threw them away when ordered to charge, and dashed upon the Fire Zouaves with bowie knives. They are said to have been surrounded and cut to pieces.

As we have been unable up to this time to get the names of the killed and wounded we present to-day the names of the gallant men who have won for [themselves] such imperishable laurels, nearly half, [again], finding the cypress entwined with them. This spartan band will never be forgotten to Louisiana or to the South. We have an additional reason for publishing this list in the fact that a great many people do not know and are anxious to ascertain which companies composed the battalion that has been so prominently brought into notice. Wheat’s Battalion comprised five companies of bold and sturdy men who were well known to be panting for just such an opportunity as that in which they found a field for their valor at the Stone Bridge. This spirit was exhibited by one of the companies choosing their name – Tigers – which they have upheld with their knives. While in Camp here they were accounted “hard nuts to crack”, and no none doubted that they would signalize themselves in battle. Their spirit so pleased A. Keene Richards, Esq. that he fitted them out in a dashing Zouave uniform at their expense. The Catahoula Guerillas, from Trinity, were all animated with the same resolve, to win a name, even if in death. The Walker Guards were a hardy, experienced band of Nicaraguan boys who took their title from General W. Walker. The Delta Rangers and the Old Dominion Guard were crack companies of fighting men. Major Wheat has been Captain of the Old Dominions, and he took his Adjutant  from that company. We take the following list from the State muster rolls.

[Roster of Special Battalion of Louisiana Volunteers follows, see link below.]

New Orleans Bee, 8/1/1861.

Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 113, pp. 3 – 4.

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