Whadyousay?

9 04 2009

clint_eastwoodIn this article we have yet another version of what Barnard Bee said to his men that resulted in the bestowing of the name “Stonewall” on Thomas J.  Jackson and his command.  If you click on the Stonewall Jackson tag in the list at the bottom of the column on the right of this page (or just click here if you’re lazy), you’ll find other discussions and accounts of the incident.

There seem to be two questions – what did Bee say, and what did Bee mean by what he said?  Did he want his men to “determine to die here”, to “rally behind the Virginians”, or to “go to his assistance”?  Did he mean that Jackson was holding firm, or that he wasn’t moving forward?  What do you all think, and why?





SHSP – The Soubriquet “Stonewall”

8 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XIX. Richmond, Va. 1891, pp. 164-167

The Soubriquet “Stonewall”

[From the Richmond Dispatch, July 29, 1891]

HOW IT WAS ACQUIRED

A few more years will forever seal the lips of all who can speak from personal knowledge of the incidents of the “War Between the States.” Any of them, therefore, who can now contribute to the perfect accuracy of history may be pardoned for doing so, even at the risk of incurring the charge of egotism. This is my only motive for troubling you with this brief article. I am one of those who heard General Barnard E. Bee utter the words which gave Jackson the name of “Stonewall.”

THE EXACT FACTS

The speech of General Early (as I have seen it reported) at Lexington on the 21st instant is slightly inaccurate in its account of this matter in two particulars. As this inaccuracy does injustice to other Confederate soldiers no less gallant than the “Stonewall” brigade, I am sure the chivalric old General and all others like him, with hearts in the right place, will be glad to have it corrected and the exact facts stated.

THE FOURTH ALABAMA

It was to the FourthAlabama regiment that the words were spoken by General Bee, about 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon of July 21, 1861. This regiment, with the Sixth North Carolina and Second and Eleventh Mississippi, constituted Bee’s brigade; and as the brigade arrived at Manassas from the Valley in detachments, so it went into and fought through the battle, not as a whole, but by separate regiments. The Fourth Alabama having arrived at Manassas on Saturday, the 20th, was in movement very early on Sunday morning, the 21st, from near the junction towards the upper fords of Bull Run. The dust raised by the march of the Federal army to Sudley’s ford having attracted attention, the Fourth Alabama was hurried by General Bee in that direction, and we reached before 11 A. M. the plateau of the Henry House, whereon the main conflict occurred afterwards.

A GREAT SACRIFICE

Bee seeing that this was a good position for defence, but that the Federals would capture it unless delayed before the Confederate forces could reach there in sufficient numbers, ordered the Fourth Alabama to hasten a half mile further north beyond Young’s branch and the wood over there to aid Evans, Wheat, and others in detaining the Federal army.

This duty we performed at great sacrifice, standing fast for an hour or more against overwhelming numbers, losing our Colonel, Egbert Jones, mortally wounded; Lieutenant-Colonel Law and Major Scott, disabled, and a great number of other officers and men killed and wounded.

Then in obedience to orders we withdrew from our advanced position and took position on the Confederate battle-line and in rear of the Robinson House.

GENERAL JOHNSTON SEIZES THE FLAG

Here, without field-officers and under command of a captain, the Fourth Alabama maintained its ground and did its part in resisting the enemy. General Johnston at one time came to us there and led us forward on a charge against the enemy, bearing our flag in his own hand. That glorious old warrior never appeared more magnificent than he did at that moment on his prancing horse and flaunting our colors in the face of the foe, who fell back before us.

SMITTEN WITH FIRE

Soon after this, the leading design of the Federals all day being to turn the Confederate left, the heaviest fighting veered in that direction, and in consequence the enemy disappeared from the immediate front of our regiment, leaving us unengaged; but the fearful crash after crash of the Federal musketry, as fresh troops poured in against the Confederate centre and left, can never be forgotten by those who heard it. Farther and farther round its awful thunders rolled as if nothing could stay it. Our brigade comrades of the Sixth North Carolina separated, from us in the manœuvres of the day, had rushed in single handed and been smitten as with fire, and their gallant Colonel Fisher and many of his men were no more. Jackson and his glorious brigade were struggling like giants to withstand the fierce onslaught.

THE WORDS OF BEE

It was just at this moment our Brigadier-General Bee came galloping to the Fourth Alabama and said: “My brigade is scattered over the field, and you are all of it now at hand. Men, can you make a charge of bayonets?” Those poor, battered, and bloody-nosed Alabamians, inspired by the lion like bearing of that heroic officer, responded promptly, “Yes, General, we will go wherever you lead, and do whatever you say.” Bee then said, pointing towards where Jackson and his men were so valiantly battling about a quarter of a mile to the west and left of us,” Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall. Let us go to his assistance.” Saying this, he dismounted, placed himself at the left of the Fourth Alabama, and led the regiment (what remained of them) to Jackson’s position and joined them on to his right.

A CHARGE

Some other reinforcements coming up, a vigorous charge was made, pressing the Federals back. In this charge Bee fell mortally wounded, leading the Fourth Alabama. Barrow fell, not far from the same time and within a stone’s throw of the same spot, leading his Georgians. All the world knows how the Federals shortly thereafter were seized with a panic and fled incontinently from the field.

THE ERROR COMPLAINED OF

It is not true that General Bee said “rally behind the Virginians,” or behind anybody else. It is not true that he was rallying his men at all, for they were not retiring. The glory of the Stonewall Brigade does not need to be enhanced by any depreciation of the equal firmness and heroism of other men on that historic field. Let it never be forgotten that the Fourth Alabama lost more men on that day than any other regiment but one in the Confederate army, and every field from there to Appomattox was moistened with the blood of her heroes. But several of them still survive to corroborate, to the letter, the statement I have given you above.

Very respectfully,

WILLIAM M. ROBINS,

Former Major Fourth Alabama

Statesville, N. C., July 14, 1891





Sullivan Ballou Redux

8 04 2009

Here’s another version of Sullivan Ballou’s famous letter.  Hat tip to Dmitri.

Not my cup of tea, but whatever floats your boat.  See here for all my posts on Ballou, including what I think is the most complete and accurate version of the letter (the whereabouts of which are not known).





Southern Historical Society Papers

7 04 2009

I’ve set up this page as an index for Bull Run related articles in the Southern Historical Society Papers.  As I post the articles here I’ll link them to the index, as well as to the OOBs.

I don’t have hard copies of the SHSP, so I won’t be able to check the articles that I pull from disc for accuracy (typos, etc…).  So if you see any mistakes, please don’t hesitate to let me know via the comments feature on each post.





McDowell’s Stuff

3 04 2009

mcdowellIrvin McDowell remains a murky figure.  Probably the biggest obstacle in learning more about the man is the fact that his personal correspondence and records, what are most commonly referred to as “papers”, were destroyed or otherwise lost after his death.  But while it’s generally accepted that fellow Union general George Thomas destroyed his own papers to prevent the “hawking” of his story, nobody is really sure what happened to McDowell’s stuff.

One of the first studies of Bull Run that I read, R. M. Johnston’s still essential Bull Run: Its Strategy and Tactics (1913), contains this tantalizing tidbit:

I was long in hopes of getting access to some papers left by General McDowell which are said to contain information of importance as to his relations with the authorities at Washington; unfortunately, I was unable to persuade those who have charge of them to let me see them.

Note that Johnston didn’t write that he had heard the papers might exist, or that he was unable to track down or contact the owners, but rather that he knew where they were and who had them, and was denied access.  It sure sounds like there was something out there in 1913.  Where is it now?  Does the answer lay amid Johnston’s own papers, wherever they may be?  Does it lie in other collections, like those of fellow Ohio general and assassinated President James A. Garfield, who named a son after McDowell?  Or perhaps in those of his friends the Chase family, also of Ohio?  Or maybe someplace as mundane as the records of the San Francisco Dept. of Parks and Recreation  (McDowell served as Park Commissioner for the city between his retirement from the army in 1882 and his death in 1885)?

Maybe someday I’ll get an email from some distant McDowell or Garfield or Chase relative, or from some clerk in San Francisco’s city hall, or some archivist somewhere, telling me they have a steamer trunk labeled “Maj. Gen. McDowell” and loaded with old letters and dispatches and diaries and memoirs.  It’s happened before – not to me, but it’s happened.





June 2009 Civil War Times

2 04 2009

cwt609I think it’s official: Civil War Times has retaken its place as the preeminent general Civil War history magazine (Blue & Gray is a different animal).  This month’s issue includes three great pieces on Glory, still far and away the best Civil War film ever made: Gary Gallagher’s thoughts on the movie 20 years later; an interview with actor Andre’ (Thomas Searles) Braugher; and an article on Medal of Honor recipient William Carney of the 54th MA.  See here for a clip from the movie.  Looks like the clip has been removed from YouTube.  Sorry.

alAlso in this issue is a fine, scholarly article by Ethan Rafuse on George McClellan’s Whig roots and how they  affected his relationship with Lincoln.  No footnotes, but come on, who really reads the notes in a magazine article?  Stephen Budiansky has an article on the 7th Cavalry during Reconstruction; there’s a bit on the Gettysburg Cyclorama; Ernest Fergurson writes on Lincoln’s sense of humor; and Harold Holzer takes a look at an 1860 full-length photo of the future Emancipator.

Good goin’, CWT!





Notes on Kite Letter

1 04 2009

Notes on M. V. B. Kite, 33rd VA, on the Death of His Brother, 10th VA, by contributor Robert H. Moore, II:

By far, First Manassas (July 21, 1861) was the single worst day in the history of military casualties for Page County; the county losing more killed and wounded in that single day than any other before, during, or after the Civil War. Among those who fell was John William Kite (born ca. 1838), a son of David B. and Marie Kauffman Kite. John W. Kite enlisted in June 1861 with Capt. William T. Young’s Page Volunteers, a company that subsequently became Co. K of the Tenth Virginia Infantry. Two of John’s other brothers, Alfred Melton Kite and Martin Van Buren Kite enlisted in Rev. Rippetoe’s Page Grays (later Co. H, Thirty-third Virginia Infantry). The letter describes part of the events of the battle, as described by Martin to his sister Eliza (later the wife of Noah Rowe). Incidentally, since the two companies were not immediately fighting alongside each other during the battle, it can be understood why information conveyed to Martin on the battlefield was not immediate or necessarily accurate. The account was originally published in the 1920s in the “Richmond Missourian.”

Martin Van Buren Kite’s service was short-lived as well. Sent home sick in October 1861, by January 1862, he was detailed as a nurse at a Lynchburg hospital and there remained for most of the rest of his service. Alfred M. Kite also survived the war.








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