Col. Charles Fisher, 6th North Carolina

8 05 2014

I have a lengthy memoir of Fisher and the 6th, presented at the dedication of a portrait of the Colonel. I found it at UNC’s Wilson Library a few years ago – hope to get it transcribed and posted here eventually.

If the Facebook page is not displaying, click on the post title and it should show up.





Body of Colonel C. F. Fisher, 6th NC, Returns

3 08 2011

The body of the lamented Col. Fisher, of the 6th Regiment of North Carolina State Troops, was escorted yesterday evening by the larger portion of the 4th Regiment State troops from the same State, from the Central depot to the Petersburg depot, en route for home. Col. Fisher was shot through the head and instantly killed, while leading his men in the memorable battle, near Manassas, last Sunday. The grief of his men at the loss of their gallant chief was deep and universal. It has hardly been a week since the lamented officer passed through the streets of our city at the head of his regiment, a splendid brass band discoursing the while the song of an anticipated victory. It came, but the song of triumph was hushed, for victory was bought by the death of many a brave and true man. Coll. Fisher was enlisted  heart and soul in the cause of Southern independence. He had used his means unsparingly in the equipment of the splendid regiment that he led so gloriously to battle in defense of our common country. to him victory came even in the arms of death. To his relations and friends it must be consoling to know that a grateful nation will forever keep alive the memory of the heroes who fell on the bloody fields of Manassas. Peace to their [names].

Raleigh Register, 7/26/1861

Transcribed by Michael Hardy





Preview: Rod Gragg, “The Illustrated Gettysburg Reader”

1 07 2013

P9781621570431Regnery History sent me a very nice, autographed copy of Rod Gragg’s new The Illustrated Gettysburg Reader: An Eyewitness History of the Civil War’s Greatest Battle. If you’re not familiar with Rod Gragg, you should be – he is, among other things, the author of a fine study of the battle of Fort Fisher, Confederate Goliath, and also a history of the 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg, Covered With Glory. This new book follows the traditional reader format, with first hand accounts presented in chronological order. What sets this apart are the extensive illustrations (photos, artwork, maps.) Is this something that every student of the Civil War in general and the Battle of Gettysburg in particular needs on their shelves? Probably not, but if you’re looking to introduce someone to the use of primary sources, or to that Pennsylvania battle, it’s a safe bet.





Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable, Pinehurst, NC, 4/18/2013

29 04 2013

About 45 people showed up for my presentation to the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Southern Pines, NC (the area is generally Pinehurst.) This presentation was a first for me, though I have spoken to the group on two other occasions. Program director and friend Tonia (Teej) Smith asked me to speak to the membership on blogging. That’s a pretty general topic, but also one which I wasn’t sure I could speak about for an hour without repeated use of “I” and “me.” As I developed the program it turned into a look at what I call The Future of Civil War History From a Slightly Different Point of View. I really had only a very general idea of the outline of the program, and hoped it would foster a give-and-take with the audience, since they are the very sorts of folks I feel will be playing a big role in that future. OK, I did have to use “I” and “me” a good bit.

Drawing on some writing by Garry Wills in Henry Adams and the Making of America, Ken Noe, James Ellroy, John Huston, the Coen Brothers, and some of the pieces I’ve written here over the years, we examined the changing landscape of “history” in the digital age. I compared our recent and future times with that of the “gentleman historians” of the 19th century, and we discussed how digital archives and the web in general have lessened to some extent the barriers to research. And we talked a bit about how those in the room could get started in participating in the process. There were plenty of questions and lots of enthusiasm, and an encouraging line of folks who wanted to carry on the discussion after my time was up.

On Friday Teej and I made a trip west to Salisbury, NC, site of a wartime Confederate prison and the grave of Col. Charles Fisher of the 6th NC, who was killed in action at First Bull Run. Here are a few photos of his grave in the Old Lutheran Cemetery.

IMG_20130419_131207_304 IMG_20130419_131213_414 IMG_20130419_131223_284 IMG_20130419_131237_602

You can see more photos of the trip to Salisbury on Bull Runnings’s Facebook Page. The image of the group at the top of the page is “flipped”, but you can see it in its proper orientation on Facebook.

As always, Teej and RBCWRT president “Harry” Hilgrove treated me top rate. If you’re in the area on the third Thursday of the month, check them out in Southern Pines.





Pvt. John O. Casler, Co. A, 33rd Virginia Infantry, On the March From Winchester and the Battle

25 02 2013

July 18th we marched through Winchester and took the road leading to Berry’s Ferry, on the Shenandoah river, about eighteen miles distant. The citizens were very much grieved to see us leave, for fear the enemy would be in town, as there were no troops left but a few militia and Colonel Turner Ashby’s cavalry.

After marching a few miles we were halted, and the Adjutant read us orders that the enemy were about to overpower General Beauregard at Manassas Junction, and we would have to make a forced march. It was General Johnston’s wish that all the men would keep in ranks and not straggle, if possible. Then we started on a quick march, marched all day and nearly all night, wading the Shenandoah river about 12 o’clock at night halted at a small village called Paris about two hours, then resumed the march about daylight, and arrived at Piedmont Station, on the Manassas Railroad.

Our brigade was in the advance on the march, and when we arrived at the station the citizens for miles around came flocking to see us, bringing us eatables of all kinds, and we fared sumptuously. There were not trains enough to transport al at once, and our regiment had to remain there until trains returned, which was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. We had a regular picnic; plenty to eat, lemonade to drink, and beautiful young ladies to chat with. We finally got aboard, bade the ladies a long farewell, and went flying down the road, arriving at the junction in the night.

The next day, the 20th of July, we marched about four miles down Bull Run, to where General Beauregard had engaged the enemy on the 18th, and repulsed their advance. There we joined our brigade. We lay on our arms all night. We tore all the feathers out of our hats, because we heard the Yanks had feathers in theirs, and we might be fired on by mistake, as our company was the only one that had black plumes in their hats. We could hear pickets firing at intervals, and did not know what minute we would be rushed into action.

My particular friend and messmate, William I. Blue, and myself lay down together, throwing a blanket over us, and talked concerning our probable fate the next day. We had been in line of battle several times, and had heard many false alarms, but we all knew there was no false alarm this time; that the two armies lay facing each other, and that a big battle would be fought the next day; that we were on the eve of experiencing the realities of war in its most horrible form – brother against brother, father against son, kindred against kindred, and our own country torn to pieces by civil war.

While lying thus, being nearly asleep, he roused me up and said that he wanted to make a bargain with me, which was, if either of us got killed the next day the one who survived should see the other buried, if we kept possession of the battle-field.

I told him I would certainly do that, and we pledged ourselves accordingly. I then remarked that perhaps we would escape unhurt or wounded. He said: “No, I don’t want to be wounded. If I am shot at all I want to be shot right through the heart.”

During the night we heard a gun fired on the left of the regiment and I got up and walked down the line to see what had happened. I found one of the men had shot himself through the foot, supposed to have been done intentionally, to keep out of the fight, but the poor fellow made a miscalculation as to  where his toes were, and held the muzzle of the gun too far up and blew off about half of his foot, so it had to be amputated.

July 21st dawned clear and bright (and for the last time on many a poor soldier), and with it the sharpshooters in front commenced skirmishing. We were ordered to “fall in,” and were marched up the run about four miles, and then ordered back to “Blackburn’s Ford.” Our company and the “Hardy Greys” were thrown out as skirmishers, opposite the ford, in a skirt of woods commanding a full view of the ford, and ordered to fire on the enemy if they attempted to cross the run. While we were lying in that position heavy firing was heard on our left, both infantry and artillery. In a few moments we were ordered from there to join the regiment, and went “double quick” up the run to where the fighting was going on. The balance of the brigade was in line of battle behind the brow of a small ridge. We were halted at the foot of this ridge and Colonel Cummings told us that it was General Jackson’s command that our regiment should depend principally on the bayonet that day, as it was a musket regiment.

Some of the boys were very keen for a fight, and while we were down in the run they were afraid it would be over before we got into it. One in particular, Thomas McGraw, was very anxious to get a shot at the “bluecoats,” and when the Colonel read us the order about the bayonet I asked Tom how he liked that part of the programme. He said that was closer quarters than he anticipated.

Our regiment marched up the hill and formed “left in front,” on the left of the brigade, and on the entire left of our army. As we passed by the other regiments the shells were bursting and cutting down the pines all around us, and we were shaking hands and bidding farewell to those we were acquainted with, knowing that in a few moments many of us would be stretched lifeless on the field.

At this time our troops were falling back, but in good order, fighting every inch of the way, but were being overpowered and flanked by superior numbers. They were the 2d Mississippi and Colonel Evans’ 4th Alabama Regiments, General Bee’s South Carolina Brigade, Colonel Bartow’s 7th and 8th Georgia Regiments, Major Wheat’s Battalion (called the Louisiana Tigers), and Imboden’s Battery. They had resisted the main portion of the “Federal Army” and had done all that men could do, and had lost severely, but were still holding the enemy in check while we were forming.

It was there at this moment that General Jackson received the name of “Stonewall,” and the brigade the ever memorable name of “Stonewall Brigade.” General Barnard E. Bee, riding up to General Jackson, who sat on his horse calm and unmoved, though severely wounded in the hand, exclaimed in a voice of anguish: “General, they are beating us back!”

Turning to General Bee, he said calmly: “Sir, we’ll give them the bayonet.”

Hastening back to his men, General Bee cried enthusiastically, as he pointed to Jackson: “Look yonder! There is Jackson and his brigade standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here and we will conquer. Rally behind them!”

They passed  through our brigade and formed in the rear. I knew they were South Carolinians by the “Palmetto tree” on their caps. General Bee and Colonel Bartow fell, mortally wounded. The enemy, flushed with victory, pushed on, never dreaming what was lying just beyond the brow of the hill in the pines. There seemed to be a lull in the firing just at this time, and Sergeant James P. Daily, of my company, walked up to the brow of the hill, but soon returned with the exclamation: “Boys, there is the prettiest sight from the top of the hill you ever saw; they are coming up on the other side in four ranks, and all dressed in red!”

When we heard that, I, with several others, jumped up and started to see, but Colonel Cummings ordered us to “stay in ranks,” and Daily remarked: “We will see them soon enough.” Sure enough, in a few seconds the head of the column made its appearance, with three officers on horseback in front, and marching by the flank, with the intention of flanking one of our batteries – the Rockbridge Artillery, Captain W. N. Pendleton. In a few minutes they spied us lying there, and I heard one of the officers say: “Hello! what men are these?” At that moment some of our men who, evidently, had the “buck fever,” commenced, without orders, firing some scattering shots. The enemy then poured a volley into us, but as we were lying down the balls went over our heads, harmless.

That morning we had been given a signal to use in time of battle, to distinguish friend from foe, which was to throw the right hand to the forward, palm outward, and say, “Sumter.” When this regiment (which was the 14th Brooklyn, N. Y.), appeared in view Colonel Cummings gave the signal, and it was returned by one of the officers, but how they got it was a mystery. So, when the scattering shots were fired by some of our regiment, Colonel Cummings exclaimed: “Cease firing, you are firing on friends!” and the volley came from them at the same time, and I know I remarked, “Friends, hell! That looks like it.”

Colonel Cummings, seeing his mistake, and also seeing a battery of artillery taking position and unlimbering, in close proximity and in a place where it could enfilade our troops, determined to capture it before it could do any damage. I don’t think he had any orders from any superior officer, but took the responsibility on himself. Then came the command: “Attention! Forward march! Charge bayonets! Double quick!” and away we went, sweeping everything before us; but the enemy broke and fled.

We were soon in possession of the guns, killed nearly all the horses, and a great portion of the men were killed and wounded; and we were none too soon, for one minute more and four guns would have belched forth into our ranks, carrying death and destruction, and perhaps have been able to have held their position. As it was, the guns were rendered useless, and were not used any more that day, all though we had to give them up temporarily.

We were halted, and one of my company, Thomas Furlough, who had belonged to the artillery in the Mexican war, threw down his musket and said: “Boys, let’s turn the guns on them.” That was the last sentence that ever passed his lips, for just then he was shot dead.

While this was going on, the enemy were throwing a force on our left flank in the pines, and commenced pouring it into us from the front and an enfilading fire from the flank, and were cutting us to pieces, when we were ordered back, and halted at our first position.

Then we were reinforced by the 49th Virginia and the 6th North Carolina Regiments, commanded by Colonel Chas. F. Fisher (who was killed a few minutes afterwards) and “Extra Billy” Smith. This mad our line longer, and we were ordered to charge again. The charge of Jackson’s men was terrific. The enemy were swept before them like chaff before a whirlwind. Nothing could resist their impetuosity. The men seem to have caught the dauntless spirit and determined will of their heroic commander, and nothing could stay them in their onward course. The 33d Virginia, in its timely charge, saved the day by capturing and disabling Griffin’s battery, altho’ they could not hold it just then. The name won that day by the brigade and its General is immortal.

In this action our regiment (the 33d Virginia), being on the extreme left, was alone, the balance of the brigade not charging until later, and we were terribly cut up and had to fall back. General Jackson said he could afford to sacrifice one regiment to save the day; and it was the first check and first repulse the enemy had received, and during the remainder of the day the battle turned in favor of the Confederates.

We did not follow them far, for fresh troops were coming in all the time, and we had lost severely, and were considerably demoralized. I then took a stroll over the battlefield, to see who of my comrades were dead or wounded, and saw my friend, William I. Blue, lying on his face, dead. I turned him over to see where he was shot. He must have been shot through the heart, the place where he wanted to be shot, if shot at all. He must have been killed instantly, for hs was in the act of loading his gun. One hand was grasped around his gun, in the other he held a cartridge, with one end of it in his mouth, in the act of tearing it off. I sat down by him and took a hearty cry, and then, thinks I, “It does not look well for a soldier to cry,” but I could not help it. I then stuck his gun in the ground by his side, marked his name, company and regiment on a piece of paper, pinned it on his breast, and went off.

I then saw three field officers a short distance from me looking through a field glass. I very deliberately walked up to them and asked them to let me look through it, and one of them handed it to me. When looking through it I saw, about two miles off, what I took to be about 10,000 of the enemy. The field appeared to be black with them. I returned the glass, saying: “My God! have we all of them to fight yet?” Just at that moment “Pendleton’s Battery” turned their guns on them and I saw the first shell strike in the field. I don’t think it was five minutes until the field was vacant. I felt considerably relieved. I had had enough of fighting that day. We had gained a great victory. The enemy were completely routed and panic-stricken, and never halted until they arrived at Alexandria and Washington.

My company only numbered fifty-five, rank and file, when we went into service, but, ,so many having the measles and other ailments, we went into the fight with only twenty-seven men, and out of that number we lost five killed and six wounded. The killed were William I. Blue, Thomas Furlough, James Adams, John W. Marker and Amos Hollenback. The wounded were Sergeant William Montgomery, John Reinhart, Robert C. Grace, Edward Allen, A. A. Young and Joseph Cadwallader.

The regiment went right into action with about 450 men, and lost forty-three killed and 140 wounded. Our regiment fought the 14th Brooklyn Zouaves and the 1st Michigan, which poured a deadly volley into us. While we were engaged in front, Colonel Cummings ordered the regiment to fall back three times before they did so. All the troops engaged suffered more or less, but the loss of the 33d Virginia was greater than that of any regiment on either side, as the statistics will show, and it was the smallest regiment, not being full and not numbered.

We worked nearly all night taking care of the wounded, for nearly all of the enemy’s wounded were left in our hands. I took a short sleep on the battle-field. The next day was rainy and muddy. The regiment was ordered to “fall in,” but not knowing where they were going, I did not want to leave until I had buried my friend, according to promise. When they had marched off I hid behind a wagon, and Sergeant Daily, seeing me, ordered me to come on. I told him never would I leave that field until I had buried my friend, unless I was put under arrest. He then left me, and I looked around for some tools to dig a grave. I found an old hoe and spade, and commenced digging the grave under an apple tree in an orchard near the “Henry house.”

While I was at work a Georgian came to me and wanted the tools as soon as I was done with them. He said he wanted to bury his brother, and asked if I was burying a brother.

“No,” I replied, “but dear as a brother.”

“As you have no one to help you,” he said, “and I have no one to help me, suppose we dig the grave large enough for both, and we can help one another carry them here.”

“All right,” I said, “but I want to bury my friend near the tree, for, perhaps his father will come after him.”

So we buried them that way and gathered up some old shingles to put over the bodies, and a piece of plank between them. Then I rudely carved the name on the tree.

Captain William Lee, who was acting Lieutenant Colonel, was killed, and our Sergeant Major, Randolph Barton, a cadet from the Virginia Military Institute, was severely wounded.

That evening there was a detail made from each company to bury the dead, and we buried all alike, friend and foe, and this ended the first battle of “Bull Run,” and the first big battle of the war.

There is no doubt but that the timely charge of the 33d Virginia turned the tide of battle and saved the day for the Confederates. Colonel Cummings took the responsibility upon himself and ordered the charge just in the nick of time, for in five minutes’ time the Federals would have had their battery in position and would have had an enfilading fire on the brigade and Pendleton’s Battery, and made their position untenable. I herewith append a letter from Colonel Cummings, and one from Captain Randolph Barton, which bear me out in my statement, and more fully explain the situation and results. Also one that I had written to my parents three days after the battle, and which is still preserved.

Cummings Letter

Barton Letter

Casler Letter

James I. Robertson, Jr., ed., Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade, pp. 21-33





Unknown Officer, First Maryland Battalion, On the March to Manassas and the Battle

5 08 2012

The Battle of Manassas – Letter From an Officer in the Maryland Brigade to His Wife.

You know when we left Winchester, late the afternoon of Thursday; we marched all that night, and at sunrise the next morning camped for breakfast on the Shenandoah. At eleven our brigade commenced the crossing, and by two got fairly on the march again. After twelve that night we reached Piedmont, when the men got food, only the second meal since leaving Winchester.

Saturday, however, we remained, the railroad dispatching troops with horrid inefficiency. At two A. M. Sunday morning we got on the cars; a train ran off – water gave out – men were called for to shovel water in the trough with spades, and had it not been for Col. Fisher of 6th N. C. I do not know when we should have got off. His energy and experience got us started, and at eleven we reached a point some three miles from Manassas, Gen. E. K. Smith commanding his brigade, and Elzeys our Maryland one as General of Division. Then none of Smith’s men had arrived, and taking command of the Marylanders, who were the first formed, he led off, followed by the Tennessee 3d, Col. Vangham, and Virginia 10th, Col. Gibbons, and a light battery under Lieut. Beckham.

The dust was dreadful, the heat terrific, but unslinging knapsacks we went off at double quick. The Lieut. Col. and Major having been obliged to send their horses by road, were on foot. The boom of heavy artillery gradually extending to our left showed the battle widening there, and an attempted out-flanking us. At the cars we had received a colour presented by the ladies of Baltimore, and fastening that to our old colours, those of the Frederick Volunteers, we had only the flag of Maryland, and her old arms over our heads. As we passed regiment after regiment, cheer after cheer went up for gallant Maryland. Hearing the line of fire which now crashed and rolled and thundered in front; a regiment of cavalry drawn in line showed the preparation for a charge; under a hill a long line of men showed a reserve protecting themselves against the round shot and bullets which whizzed and whistled in a continuous stream over our heads. Then an Aid galloped up – Hill, from N. C. – without a hat, “Forward, Maryland!” was his shout and then a responsive shout showed the spirit of our men. To run for two miles and a half in a terrible heat and dust, by men without sleep the night before and no food since the previous day, told on men and officers. I nearly gave out, and thought it impossible to go a step further, when a halt was had. The men rushed, permission being given, into a mass of mud and water, stirred by thousands of men and horses, and eagerly drank it. General Smith sent to General Beauregard for orders. The answer was, “You must do the best you can. Go where the fire is hottest.” Forward, was the word. On sprang the men. Troops of wounded and dispirited men met us coming slowly back from the field. “Haste,” said they, “we are getting cut to death – they are mowing our men by ranks and companies.” The words infuriated our men. The double-quick became a run, and over fences, through brakes and gullies and briars, they rushed with reckless impetuosity. Just then came up one of my horses. I gave it to Col. Stuart. Soon after a raking volley from our right brought the order from General Smith to “Lie Down,” but it was too late; Company F, and Irish company from Baltimore, had seen the enemy in the woods. Their caps and red breeches showed the Zouaves, and, with a yell, they fired and charged. Gen. Smith fell within ten feet of me, shot through the neck, and four of our men were brought down, but the Zouaves were gone. The long roll of small arms just in front indicated, we thought, a sharp, deadly conflict there, so, charging through a thick wood, we halted just on the other edge. Going up the hill, a splendid horse came up riderless. I caught him and mounted. As we halted – Colonel Elzey then in command, Smith being off the field – was just in the center of our Regiment. The 3d Tennessee on our right, 10th Virginia on our left, and Beckham’s battery on a hill, masked by some light woods. Just then we discovered the enemy in force on top of a high hill, not two hundred and fifty yards from us, flag flying and bayonets glistening in the sun. “Get me a glass, get me a glass,” said the Colonel.

But my eyes were better just then. The wind threw out the Stars and Stripes; the long line of light shivered along their ranks as they bought their guns to a ready preparation to fire. I rode along the line, saying to the men shoot at their knees; and as I got back to the Colonel, her ordered, give it to them, boys; and the Maryland rifles rang out clear and sharp; but high above them – above the roar of battle – above the tempest of whewing, whizzing balls – the cheer of the “Maryland Line” rose full and high. With each volley they cheered. The enemy attempted to stand the leaden hail; but then Col Elzey gave the order to charge, and, with another yell, over the fence we went and up the hill – gallant Tennessee stretching out like a line of light on our right, old Virginia gathering in on our left, while Beckham’s battery fired one, two, three, four, as regularly, as coolly as if firing a salute – one, two, three, four. But we beat them all in the race. Up the hill – no enemy there. Dead, dying and wounded and panic-stricken were lying in heaps. Their fine horses, together with swords and sashes, splendid saddles, all were there. But Captain Edelin, of company B, watching the flag head, had followed it during the charge and took it from the colour-bearer. All his guard shot down or fled, the gallant fellow had taken it from his lance and wrapped it around his left arm, where he was badly shot. It was the flag of the First Michigan Regiment – a crack corps. But just in front was a thick pine wood. In it the man dashed, and the last stand of Yankeedom at the battle of Manassas was taken. They fled like sheep. The Regiments in front of us were First Michigan, Second Vermont, Fourth Maine, New York Fire Zouaves, New York Sixty-ninth. We charged them and ran them with rifles without bayonets, only two companies of the Regiment having muskets. We then went forward, taking prisoners; but the battle was over. Beauregard inquired for us, and told Col. Elzey he was the Blucher of the day. President Davis came along, and the men cheered heartily.

The hard fighting done by other regiments was wonderful. We were particularly blessed, for though under a terrific fire for three hours, we lost one killed – a clever young fellow from Washington county – who joined me on the Maryland Heights. Lieut. Mernot and four wounded. But other regiments were terribly cut up. I saw men lying in ranks as they stood in line around a battery – the Rhode Island one, Burnside’s, I believe – friend and foe were lying so thick it required careful riding to avoid treading on them. Such was what I saw – necessarily a small part. The next day, Monday, we lay out in the rain without shelter, and at midnight started for Fairfax Court-House. A brigade under Col. J. E. B. Stewart leading. The infantry under Col. Stewart leaving the regiment to me. As we got up the road the marks of the rout thickened. Wagons, provisions, guns, pistols, clothes, everything to supply an army completely were there. Patent frying pans, which folded up, patent cartridges, patent tents, patent coats, bedsteads, everything. We came carefully along leaving all behind, and reached our camp, Fairfax Court-House, where we now are. We have the tents of the Maine and Vermont volunteers, conical and every shape, but miserably constructed. The funniest capture was our Chaplain’s – he is always prowling about, and at last got the baggage of the Maine Chaplain, which he seized and brought into camp. He has gowns, surplice bands, cravats, and all other adornments of a High Church clergyman. He saw the Maine parson, who is very saucy and full of fight; but Cameron, got his clothes nevertheless.

August 8th.

———-

Richmond Examiner, 8/17/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy





P. W. A., Co. B, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Battle

13 06 2012

The 7th and 8th Georgia Regiments at Manassas.

From the correspondence of the Savannah Republican, we take the following interesting narrative of the part borne by the 7th and 8th Georgia Regiments in the great battle at Manassas:

Manassas, Va., July 23d.

Dear Republican — I had only time yesterday to give you a list of the killed and wounded in our company, without detailing the incidents of the portion of the fight in which we were engaged.

Last Thursday we were in Winchester. At 2 o’clock we left that place. We marched over the mountains, forded the Shenandoah, and arrived at Piedmont, a station on the Manassas Gap Railroad, about ten o’clock, Friday, having footed it twenty seven miles. All the baggage was left at Winchester. We took the cars after a few hours’ delay, and came slowly here, where we arrived late Saturday morning after a tedious ride. Then marching three miles and a half we encamped in a wooded ravine beyond Manassas, and slept that night on the open ground. After a meagre breakfast Sunday morning we received orders to march for the place of fight, which we reached by a long, weary, woody, hilly, circuitous tramp of between 10 and 15 miles, often going at double quick. We halted, breathless, foot sore and exhausted, but eager for the fray.

With a few moments rest the regiments were posted behind Pendleton’s Virginia Battery, exchanging shots with the famous Sherman’s Battery of the Federalists. Ball and shell fell around us like hail. The Col. ordered the men to lay down until they were needed to charge, which they did. For some time we lay in this perilous position, losing, however, but one man – a member of the Macon Guards – when we received the order to charge the enemy’s battery. To do this it was necessary to charge across an intervening hollow and establish ourselves in a small pine thicket, flanking the enemy’s position. This cold and fearful movement was made through a perfect storm of grape and in a manner that General Johnson specially praised.

Gaining the grove with the loss of Thos. Purse killed, and James Car??? wounded, we opened fire on a large detachment of the Federal Infantry, stationed on the edge of the hill above the thicket some fifty or a hundred yards off who had been put there for the assistance of the battery. At the same time a large force of the enemy moved up until we were surrounded on three sides. Our rove was one hundred or more yards long and a quarter as wide, and as dense as nature…to near ten thousand, who poured a murderous fire upon us, concentrated, well aimed, and continuous. It was a whirlwind of bullets. Our men fell constantly. The deadly missives rattled like hail among the boughs of trees. Never veterans fought more coolly than the whole regiment. Not a man flinched. Carefully loading, each one took special aim, fired, and composedly repeated the same again.

Adjutant Branch was shot almost immediately, and Col. Gardner wounded, and Col. Bartow’s horse shot under him soon after. The ground was in a few minutes covered – paved with the dead and wounded. After seven or eight volleys were fired by us it became necessary to retire. No support was given; half of the regiment were down, and the enemy increasing in numbers. Even when the order to cease firing and retire had been given, so unyielding were the men, that several additional volleys were poured upon the foe.

In retiring a large portion of the regiment became separated from the colors by the density of the growth and were unable to recover them, but another portion, consisting among others of all the officers of the Ogelthorpes, clustered around it, and slowly retired at a walk, from point to point, towards the reserve. At every step the storm of balls mowed us down, and with their decreasing force we returned it. The ground over which we passed consisted of a series of woods and small fields, and at each open space the officers would reform the men, and the fight would be renewed with the pursuing enemy advancing in strength. A horrible mistake at this point occurred. Our own friends, taking us for the enemy, directed a galling fire upon our mutilated ranks. The Carolinians, Louisianians, and 7th Georgians turn…terrible effect.

The regiment finally withdrew out of reach of the shot, which the 7th Georgia took our place. The remnants formed, consisting of about 60 men, with Major Cooper, Capts. Magruder, Lamar, West, Dawson and Ryan, and Lieuts. Wilcox, Hall, Lumpkin, Dwinnel, Harper, Cooper, and Butler, and Sergt. Major Menard, and marched back

As this small remnant of the gallant six hundred marched, they passed Gen. Beauregard, who stopped, fronted, and raising his hat said, “I salute the gallant 8th Georgia Regiment!” – Every bosom thrilled with the proud compliment.

When the 7th Georgia Regiment reinforced us, Colonel Bartow took the lead of that. He has been for some weeks Brevet Brigadier General, commanding the 2d brigade of Johnston’s division, the brigade consisting of the 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th Georgia Regiment and a battalion of Kentuckians.

Deeply cut by the destruction of his own heroic but ill fated Regiment, Col. Bartow sprang forward to lead the 7th Georgia Regiment, whose Colonel met him, asking where they should go. Seizing the regimental standard, Col. Bartow turned to the enemy, saying “Follow me, and I will show you where,” and led on into the midst of the terrible fire of the Federalists. The men began to fall; the bullets whistled by in countless numbers. On kept the brave fellows with unquailing sternness, the Colonel leading impetuously to the enemy, encouraging and cheering the men until they arrived at their appointed position, when he turned and exclaimed, “Gen. Beauregard expects us to hold this position, and, Georgians, I appeal to you to hold it.” The leaden storm poured with increasing strength. Hot and heavy it came. Bartow turned to give of the standard to the proper officer, when a bullet passed through his heart and he fell from his horse. Several men sprang forward and lifted him up with both hands clasped over his wound. The only words he spoke – which were his last, and which deserve to be remembered as the last words of…that fame has ever commemorated – were “They have killed me: but, boys, never give up.” He was taken from the field and died in a few moments.

Thus perished, in the prime of his noble manhood, a lofty gentleman, a pure patriot, an able statesman, and a chivalric soldier. His bitterest enemies could charge him with no worse shortcomings than those which result from a high-strung spirit, impatient of meanness, sensitive to injustice, and noble to a chimera. The manner of his death would eternalize a thousand less lofty souls than his, and…less holy cause than the one in which he so fervently engaged – for which he so eagerly gave up everything, and in which he so willingly and resplendently died.

His body was…yesterday. He was not the only one of our finest officers that perished. General Bee was killed; Gen. Smith was severely wounded; Col. Fisher of a North Carolina regiment, was shot dead; also, Col. Jones, from the same state.

It has been estimated that the loss of our army is 2,000 killed and wounded; for the enemy it must be over 5,000. the numbers engaged were probably 15,000 on ours, with an unused reserved of 15,000; while the enemy numbered, at least, 60,000. They were under General Tyler. They have fled beyond Alexandria. A gentleman from there this morning said that the fugitives in miserable plight were streaming through, and that all military discipline in the place…over.

I am convinced of one thing – that all this talk about the Federalists being starved, unclothed, and unenthusiastic is absolute fudge. We cannot compare with them in the perfection of equipments and general preparations. Their haversacks were full; their blankets are magnificent; their canteens and other conveniences are ingenious, their medical accommodations are superb.

It is all fudge, too, about their enlisting from coercion, and not knowing they are to fight us. They tell us such…to mitigate their imprisonment. They are…shrewdness is a Yankee characteristic.

I have many particulars to tell you, but I must close this for …your regular correspondent here,…will give you a general view of the battle.

The remaining Ogelthorpes send love to their friends. They mourn for their gallant comrades who have so nobly died.

Oglethorpe Light Infantry

—————-

July 25 – There was another error in my letter of yesterday, in relation to the…which the lamented Bartow and the 7th and 8th Georgia regiments took in the fight. Gallant as I represented…conduct to be it now appears that only the half was told. Gen. Evans’s brigade occupied the extreme left along the line of Bulls Run. Next came Gen. Bee’s brigade, and next to his Gen. Bartow’s, and after his Gen. Jackson’s. The enemy opened a battery upon Gen. Evans by way of feint, but continued to push on his flank movement. Gen. Bee was dispatched to hold him in check, but so great were the numbers opposed to him the he was gradually forced back, while the enemy slowly but surely advanced along our flank. It was at this point that Col. Bartow’s brigade was ordered up. Meanwhile a battery of six guns had been planted to our left to protect the steady march of the Federal column, and to drive back our forces as they endeavored to head it off. As Col. Bartow was proceeding to take his position he met Gen. Beauregard, who told him that everything depended on his taking the position to which he had been ordered and checking the advance of the enemy…if possible. Upon this bloody duty he immediately started at the head of the heroic 8th. He was exposed to a galling fire for nearly an hour, from which the enemy suffered terribly. His horse was killed under him by one ball, while his sword…pierced by another. His horse came near falling upon Capt. Dawson of the Stephens Light Guards, who behaved with great gallantry, as did the whole company. At length it became necessary to retire the 8th, so much had it suffered, in order to give it time to reform in line.

At this point Col. Bartow brought up the Seventh, which had been ordered to lie flat upon the ground until called for. During this time the enemy’s line continued to stretch away to the left and gradually to force ours back, when Gen. Jackson was ordered to bring his brigade into position. Placing himself at the head of the Seventh and taking the colors in his own hands, (the color bearer having been wounded, not killed as represented,) Col. Bartow proceeded again to occupy the position to which he had been ordered. He had procured another horse, and was not on foot when he fell, as I stated yesterday. The Seventh was exposed to the same raking fire from which the Eighth had suffered so much, though not for so long a time. Indeed the fighting along the entire line in this part of the field was terrific. It was here that the fortunes of the day vibrated first to one side and then to the other, and nothing but the almost superhuman exertion of the Confederate troops gave us the victory. You will be glad to learn that even the prisoners taken from the enemy pay the highest tribute to the Georgia brigade. They say they never saw men fight as they did, and when told that there were only two regiments of them, they were utterly astonished, for, judging by the terrible execution of our muskets, they had supposed them to number four times as many. I…part of the field the night of the battle was fought, in search of Bartow’s body, and the heaps of the dead on the enemy’s side, as seen by the pitiful moonlight, and the groans and cries that everywhere saluted my ears, told but too plainly that good old Georgia had that day dealt a giant’s blow at the head of the…

The Seventh, aided by the Eighth, which had been partially restored to order, continued to hold their position with varying fortunes, and never did quit the field until the battle was won. Bartow had promised Gen. Beauregard to maintain his position, and he did it as long as he lived, and the brigade did it after he had fallen. And the result was the capture of the battery (Sherman’s) that had decimated our forces by its fire, and the final route of the adversary. To no two regiments on the field is the country more indebted than to the glorious Seventh and Eighth from Georgia. Every man was a lion-hearted hero, and every company a wall of fire.

I have not attempted to furnish you an account of the individual acts of heroism, or the gallant conduct of other regiments; for the reason that the military rules adopted here render it difficult to get access to the proper sources of information. Besides, you will find in the papers of the other…more satisfactory account of what their particular regiments did, than I could possibly give you.

Thus far I have not been able to obtain a list of the killed and wounded in the Eighth Georgia Regiment, but should be able to do so to-morrow. It suffered considerably more than the Seventh. – Appended hereto is a statement of the casualties in the Seventh, which Col. Gartrell has kindly furnished me, and which may therefore be considered reliable. Let our people never forget their brave brothers who have fallen in the defense of the liberties of the country.

President Davis returned this morning. No man in the Confederacy regrets the death of Col. Bartow more than the President, who cherished a strong friendship for him. Immediately on his return to Manassas, Sunday night, he sent a telegram to Mrs. Davis, to break the sad news to Mrs. Bartow, who had come on to Richmond, to be as near her husband as possible.

One of the prisoners says that Gen. McDowell was the active officer upon the field but that Gen. Scott who took his position at Centreville, was the director of the whole battle. If such were their positions, the latter must have come near to be captured; for notwithstanding the failure to execute…to strike at the rear of the enemy, a bold dash was made from our centre at Centreville but it was late in the day and after the retreat had commenced. Had old “fuss and feathers” been there then he would have had the pleasure of being…to Richmond sooner than his army will ever take him. …prisoner says that Senator Wilson of Massachusetts and Bob Lincoln had driven out in a carriage to see…Federalists could whip us, and that they, as well as Senator Foster barely saved themselves. I have already mentioned that Mr. Ely, M. C., from New York, was taken prisoner. Another prisoner whom I did not mention in my last letter was Col. Wilcox, of the Michigan Regiment.

P. W. A.

Augusta Chronicle, 7/30/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy





James Conner’s Hampton’s Legion Letters

27 10 2011

The transcription of this letter, sent to me by Eric Wittenberg, included the following note:

This letter, very lightly edited, was published in the Atlanta Constitution, 21 Apr [18]95, p. 22, c. 1, 2, under the title “Who is the Author?”  For some reason, the published copy has the salutation “Dear Sir,” and does not include a signature.  According to the article, it was found in a tru[n]k purchased at an estate sale in Lincolnton, N.C., and the editor solicited comments as to the authorship.  Two persons quickly responded, contending that the author was James Conner.  Id., 28 Apr 95, p. 12, c. 1-7; Id., 2 May 95, p. 7, c. 4.  The authorship was confirmed by Louis Von Standenmayer, the nephew of Conner, who stated that he sold the contents of the house in Lincolnton, but did not know that private family papers were being inadvertently sold.  Id., 14 May 95, p. 4, c. 5.  The bulk of the Conner papers are in the South Carolina Historical Society; this letter is the only item of wartime correspondence of Conner in the separate collection at South Caroliniana.

Interestingly, this 7/22/1861 letter appears to be an earlier version of this one written two days later. In many ways they are similar (in fact, one similar in its misspelling of “ate” as “eat” to other letters I’ve posted from unidentified members of the Legion), but note what Conner says in the first letter:

I have written in a great hurry, on my lap, and only for yourself and the family.

I think it likely that the second Conner letter was a cleaned up version of his first, fit for publication, or at least for distribution to other than family.

James Conner Portrait, South Carolina Statehouse

Here’s a brief sketch of James Conner, who at the time of the battle was acting major of the Legion, but was technically captain of Company A, the Washington Light Infantry:

James Conner: born 9/1/1829, Charleston SC; graduated South Carolina College 1849; pre-war lawyer, U. S. District Attorney 1856-1860; Captain, Hampton’s Legion, 5/61; Major, 7/21/61; Colonel 22nd NC 3/26/62; wounded at Gaines’s Mill, VA 6/26/62 – fractured left leg; JAG 2nd Corps AoNV 10/8/63; Brig. Gen. (special) 6/1/64; commanded McGowan’s Brigade/Wilcox’s Division/3rd Corps AoNV 6/64 to 8/64; Lane’s Brig/Wilcox’s Div/3rd Corps AoNV 8/64; Conner’s Brigade/Kershaw’s Div/1st Corps AoNV 8/64 to 10/64; wounded at Fisher’s Hill, Va. 10/13/64, left leg amputated; no record of parole; resumed law practice in Charleston, SC; Attorney General, SC 1876; commanded “rifle clubs” during Wad Hampton’s 1876 gubernatorial campaign; died Richmond, VA 6/26/1883; buried Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, SC.





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.





2nd Lt. J. A. McPherson, Co. E, 6th NC, Account of the Battle

28 07 2011

Interesting Letter From Manassas. – We have been favored with the sight of a letter from 2d Lieut. J. A. McPherson, of this county, in Capt. Avery’s Company, of Col. Fisher’s Regiment [6th NCST], (lately a student at Col. Hill’s Military Institute at Charlotte,) dated at Manassas Station, July 22d, from which we are permitted to make the following extracts:-

“Leaving Richmond we went by railroad to Strawberry, and stayed there one night. Next morning we started for Winchester, 18 miles, on foot. We had to make a forced march of it, as Johnston was expected to he attacked by an overwhelming force. We arrived late in the evening, and were drawn out in line of battle. That night I lay in the corner of a fence with some wheat straw for a shelter. We stayed there till late next evening, when, not being attacked, we pitched our tents and slept in them one night.

News then came that Gen. Beauregard was attacked by a force of three to one, and that the forces threatening us had gone to unite with those against Beauregard. Early in the morning we struck our tents, and, with thousands of others, left Winchester late in the day. When out of town Col. Fisher read an order from the General to make a forced marched across the Blue Ridge. We marched till late in the night, and then all lay down by the road-side and slept. At day-break we started again, arrived at Piedmont that night and lay out in a wheat field all night. Next morning we were roused before day, and started for the cars, but did not get off till night. I stood it as well if not better than the most of them.

We reached Manassas early in the morning, and could hear the cannon firing. We got to the battle field about 12 o’clock, and were led into the fight, and that the hottest of it. Our front rank men fought bravely. We took two pieces of artillery that belonged to the brag battery of the U. S., Sherman’s battery.  We were standing around the pieces, when some one cried out that we had fired into our friends. The enemy fired upon us from the bushes, and we fell back, as we thought it was our friends. Then they fired on is worse than ever. Our men killed all their horses and they could not take off the guns; so we got them. Col. Fisher was killed near the battery. I did not see him fall and did not know he was killed till the next day. He was shot through the head.

I never thought I could stand the fire of bullets as I did that day; and how I escaped being killed I do not know. it was just an act of providence that we were not killed by hundreds. About 100 of our regiment were killed and wounded–17 killed and some mortally wounded.

After that fight about 145 of our men went with some other regiments to protect the Washington Artillery of New Orleans. We reached a high hill and could see the enemy drawn out in line of battle. We followed them two or three miles, and that is the last we have seen of them.

We were then about 8 miles from the Junction. The General told us he would attach is to a Mississippi regiment, and we could stay there for the night. I made my supper that night on berries that I picked about in the old fields. We laid that night on the ground in an old field. On Monday morning it began to rain. Our men said they knew where there were plenty of yankee blankets, over-coats and oil-cloths. Some were sent for them and came in loaded down with blankets, over-coats, india rubber tablecovers, oil cloths, and haversacks. I have a splendid yankee over-coat and so has Capt. Avery. I have also one of their india rubber table-covers. I found these useful, as we had to march 8 miles in the raid and mud. We took thousands of blankets, over-coats, &c.

We have fought the flower of the  Northern army, and I think they had a great many more men that we had. Some of the wounded told us that they were old U. S. regulars, and I think they must have been, for they fought bravely.

We have just received orders to leave this place, to go I know not where, but I suppose towards Alexandria. N. W. Ray [of Cumberland county] is very well. He was not hurt.

Fayetteville (NC) Observer, 7/29/1861

Clipping Image contributed by John Hennessy

Transcribed by Michael Hardy








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