Captain William King, Camp Pickens Battery, On the Battle

22 04 2012

[Naval Batteries at Manassas Junction]

Sunday [7/21/1861]

[To his wife Annie K. Leftwich King]

My dear little Nannie,

I can write only very briefly after the anxiety & interest that has attached to this ever-to-be-remembered-day – To us of the South it has been a real Sun-day for now after the battle smoke has passed away we can more clearly see that we are to be a free independent & prosperous people -

Almost overwhelming numbers of the enemy attacked our forces at four different points on the Bull’s Run Creek in a desperate effort to cross & get possession of our Rail Roads in the rear & thus cut off our supplies; but thanks to Duty and the brave Southern spirits we have been again able to repel them when the odds have been so largely against us –

I stood upon the summit of my Battery & could distinctly see the ‘dense’ smoke & hear the constant loud cannon’s roar when thousands of human beings were being launched into eternity on the four battled battle grounds along the creek the extremes of which were not more than five miles distant from each other – The firing commenced at about 8 o’clock this morning and lasted until about 5 o’clock this evening when the enemy retreated leaving quite a number of prisoners, a goodly number of Artillery pieces in our hands & their dead upon the fields – The celebrated Sherman Battery was captured & he is reported to have been killed – We have lost a good many Officers and a fearful number of soldiers – Whether ours or the enemy’s loss is greatest I cannot say – I have not heard that any Lynchburger was killed or wounded – Sam Garland’s regiment was not engaged – Latham’s Battery lost no men – Clark had special command of one piece & worked it admirably – The Yankees fought well at long range; but at no time stood well in close quarters – Genl Scott was in Command at Centreville – They may come on us again in two or three days if President Davis does not order that they shall be pursued to-morrow to Alexandria which I think is quite likely –

I saw my Brother for a minute or two on his arrival here yesterday – He was in the fight to day & I hope is unhurt –

Remember me kindly to my friends at Richmond –

Very devotedly

Your own

Choctaw

PS I forgot to mention that our Cavalry pursued the enemy this evening –

MSS 6682 Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, as transcribed at 150 Years Ago Today. Used with permission.

William King in Ancestry.com





4th Sgt. Harrison B. Jones, Co. H., 33rd Virginia Infantry, On the March and Battle

22 04 2012

Thursday [7/18/1861]

Today left Winchester about 1 o’clock and marched to reinforce Gen Beauregard

we had a hard march to day; waded the Shenandoah river at Berry Ferry and continued marching until 9 o’clock at night, then stoped at Paris in Va

Friday [7/19/1861]

left Paris about 4 o’clock this morning and marched to Piedmont Station to break fast – after remaining there several hours we got upon the cars and run down to Mannassas Juncktion we remained in the cars all night there was a fight near the Junction

[Saturday 7/20/1861]

To day we marched to and fro through the Country below the Juncktion and cornfield about four miles from the Juncktion where we camped in the pine bushes with no blankets and very scant supper & breakfast.

Sunday [7/21/1861]

To day after getting an early breakfast we were marched at a quick pace having understood that the federal forces were making a attempted to flanke us about 2 o clock we were drawn up in line a battle about the time we go airly in line one of our company was wounded in the leg — we remained in that position some time exposed to heavy fire — from the Federal forces we then fired a round or two and charged upon the enemy running them from their cannon — our company lost 6 killed & fifteen wounded besides several others marked a little

MSS 14169 Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, as transcribed at 150 Years Ago Today (1, 2, 3, 4). Used with permission.

Harrison Jones at Ancestry.com





Captain William King, Camp Pickens Battery, On Blackburn’s Ford

20 04 2012

[Naval Batteries at Manassas Junction] 

7/18/1861 

[To his wife Annie K. Leftwich King]

My dear little Nannie: 

It is eight o’clock at Night and after standing at the Post Office for nearly an hour awaiting the opening of  detained mail to get a letter from you I learned that it would not be ready for delivery under two hours & determined to come home & write to you at once with nothing to communicate save the fact that about four thousand of our troops were attacked this morning at eight o’clock by a large Yankee force estimated at from 20,000 to 40,000 at Bulls Run which is quite a large fordable Creek three & a half miles from this place – Our men repulsed them three times during the day & now both forces are camped within about a mile & a half of each other – All I can gather is not satisfactorily definite to me but leads me to believe that our loss in killed & wounded does not exceed 75 & it is thought that the loss of the enemy will reach from 150 to 300 men in killed & wounded – We took some 15 or 20 prisoners who with our wounded are in this camp to night. 

Bulls Run is almost a second Saragossa in topography with our troops stationed here & there on this side of it for several miles – I suppose we will have daily engagements for several days & if at last the enemy does crop all that is necessary for their demolition will be for our forces to fall back to this place where we are ready to meet & whip (in my humble opinion) 100,000 of them – The troops were all ordered forward this morning from here except one regiment & the men connected with the Batteries – My men & I were all day in readiness at my Battery that commands the Centreville road, on which the fight occurred & we could distinctly see the flash, & smoke & hear the roar of Artillery – John Williams has volunteered to fight in my detachment & could scarcely be held at his post when the fight was progressing in our view – Our Army here is confident of ultimate complete victory & Richmond ought to be willing to trust it rather than suffer from the consternation that I hear prevails there 

I understand that Col Moon of Richmond is slightly wounded & that one Captain of the New Orleans Artillery was killed – All the Lynchburg boys were present at the fight except Lathams Battery which is stationed with Genl Cocke four or five miles above on Bulls Run – I have not heard that any of them were either killed or wounded – 

Please don’t make statements from this as coming from me for the reason that I have not taken the pains to gather full & correct details – 

Give my love to all my friends & connexions & write as often as you can to my address as of the Naval Batteries at Manassas Junction 

Your own 

Choctaw 

MSS 6682, Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, as transcribed at 150 Years Ago Today. Used with permission.

William King in Ancestry.com





What Do You Think of This?

19 04 2012

In my last post, under the signature of the letter, I included a link to the letter writer’s Civil War records at Ancestry.com. Of course, you need to be a subscriber to Ancestry.com for the link to work, but I thought this might be a time-saving measure for some readers looking for more. Let me know what you think of this. If enough feel it’s a good idea, I’ll try to include a similar link when I can. Also, do you like the separate link, or would it be better to just hyperlink the signature?





Pvt. Hiram M. Cash, Co. H., 5th Maine, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford

19 04 2012

Washington, DC

7/18/1861

Mrs. Mary H. Cash

East Raymond,

Maine

Dear parents and friends

I received your letter with a beauquet in it in due time and was very glad to hear from you and also glad to hear that you was all well and getting along well. When I wrote to you last I believe I told you we were preparing to march. we took up our line of march the next day with three days provisions the first day we marched till 10 o clock at night we were intending to cast off the retreet from fairfacts court house with 13,000 troops we stoped the rest of the night and slept on the ground In the morning we started before sunrise to march when got to the place we were about 3 hours to late to stop the rebels. they have retreeted before us as fast as our troops come in sight we have taken a few prisoners that the rebels left on picket guard they fell trees across the road to stop us but we were not delayed much on account of it. We have now completed our three days journey and have arrived within 5 miles of Manassas Junction. We had a sad accident happen on our journey there was one man shot himself in our regt about noon the 2end day and one towards night one of them was from Co. H. His name is William McSellen from casco you all know him he went to knock an apple off from a tree with the but end of his gun and it caught in the limbs and went off taken effect in the left thy and broke the bone all to pieces and he lived about 3 hours and died, and was buried the next day under arms they fired three volleys over the grave the other man was from Lewiston I do not know his name he was shot through the side and died in a moment I did not see him buried. We all seem to be enjoying good health better than we did at Washington. Genl. Scott said yesterday that he thought we should be on our way home in 8 weeks if not before we have not had a chance to fight the rebels one division yet but the right has had a little fighting to do they have gained every battle bout one they engaged the rebels at Manassas junction with only 3 regts and got badly whipt Scott has arrested the commander because he went contrary to orders in making the attack Scott says we can take the place without the loss of a man if we are carefill and obey him. the weather here is comfortable not to hot nor to cold in the day time but we have cold nights we have about 100,000 troops here and more are coming on the way here they have proclaimed strict law in the army and we have to go straight

no more to write at present

Hiram M. Cash

Ancestry.com link

MSS 12916, Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, as transcribed at 150 Years Ago Today. Used with permission.





Chasing Relatives

18 04 2012

8th PA Reserves Monument Antietam NB

A while back I received a book, Your Affectionate Son: Letters from a Civil War Soldier, from its author, Milann Ruff Daugherty. I wrote about it here. As you read (if you followed the hyperlinked “here”), at about the same time I received some news from my friend Mike regarding some relatives about whom I was unaware. That’s the normal relationship between my ancient relatives and me, by the way, unawareness. Of particular interest was Pvt. James Gates, 8th PA Reserves, mortally wounded at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, died a month later at Smoketown Hospital just north of the battlefield, buried in the national cemetery in Sharpsburg. He served in the same company as the letter writer in Ms. Daugherty’s book. As some of you may be aware, I’m a board member and vice-president of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, so my interest in the battle and battlefield is more than passing.

Antietam National Cemetery, Sharpsburg, MD

Upon learning of this more tangible relationship with the event, I felt compelled to take a drive down to Maryland (by way of Gettysburg, of course) over the President’s Day holiday back in February. I first drove out to the portion of the field where the 8th PA Reserves saw action. Then I met up with friend Craig Swain and his aide-de-camp Cade Swain and visited my great-great-uncle (how come there’s no “grand” for uncles and aunts?) in the cemetery and took in the million-dollar view of the battlefield from the back of that place. After lunch I drove over to chief historian Ted Alexander’s office near the Pry House. Ted graciously came in on his day off and so I could rummage through the park’s file on the 8th PA Reserves. It was pretty thin, but contained a series of newspaper articles from the turn-of-the-20th century, memoirs of a member of the 8th PA Reserves. In several of those articles, my g-g-uncle played a role, and from the perspective of the history of the battle and battlefield, it was a pretty high-profile role. After making copies (though I’m sure I missed some good stuff and will have to go back), Ted drove me out to the site of the Smoketown hospitals where James died. 

The long and short of it is that I took some good photos and got some great info, but I still want to do some more digging before I present my findings to you, dear readers. I hope that when I do post the piece here you all won’t mind the slight diversion from Bull Run.





Preview – Ralph Peters “Cain at Gettysburg”

17 04 2012

Forge sent me a copy of Ralph Peters’s Cain at Gettysburg, a novel of the Civil War. Please, please, please don’t take this to mean I will make any kind of habit of previewing novels. I won’t – I don’t have the time or inclination. This is an exception. I’m about a quarter of the way done with this. It’s a really well written novel – the characters have a lot of depth, and the whole work is more nuanced – and down & dirty – than The Killer Angels (which I think of more as a YA book). By merit, and based solely on what I’ve read so far, Cain should supplant Angels at the top of the Civil War novel heap, but I think the Electric Map lovers out there will cling desperately to the latter book for a long while. So far I’m very pleased, particularly with his decision to focus much of the book on 11th Corps. However, this is a novel; novels need certain character types that are black or white, and Cain is no exception to this rule. So far, though he’s not yet appeared in the book, it looks like Oliver Otis Howard is being set up as a black hat type. I can’t say that I agree with how Peters is molding Howard so far, as I think it flies in the face of evidence so far as his character goes. But this depiction of O. O. is conventional and comfortable to most, and I realize I’m in the minority with my thoughts on him (most people can’t get past an emotional – even irrational – approach to Howard, which I think says more about the analyst than the analyzed). I’m willing to set such things aside when reading a novel, particularly a good one, which Cain certainly is. I’ll post a fuller review when I’ve finished.

FYI, Peters is a retired U. S. Army officer, journalist, and TV talking head on military and intelligence matters. As reader Jeffry Burden reminds me, Peters is also the author of the Abel Jones series of Civil War detective novels, under the pen name of Owen Parry.








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