Chaplain, W[ashington]. L[ight]. I[nfantry]., Hampton’s Legion, On the Battle and Aftermath

24 08 2011

Camp Johnson, Va., August 5

Hardships of our Volunteers – Cooking – Need of Rice and Grist – Sunday after the Battle – Incidents of the Camp – Shooting with one Eye – Gen. Beauregard’s Address – Strict Discipline, etc, etc.

In  commencing this letter, I would, through you, urge upon all those who are sending contributions to the sick soldiers, to remember, as well, whose who are not; for, believe me, the fighting part is but a portion of all our brothers are enduring for the sake of home and honor. The Department furnishes flour, salt and water; and the fried, heavy fritters, and the raw, doughy biscuits, are doing as much damage as Minnie balls and patent shells. Send our men rice and grist in flour barrels. In that size it is more easily moved. Send it, and pay the expenses to Manassas, cost what it will. Also send peas and beans. Send them each week; it will save the lives of many who, else, will perish under the present fare and wretched water they are compelled to use. Our wounded are all doing well. Sweat, poor fellow, has lost his arm. Bomar is recovering. Green is getting on well; he is still at Manassas. We have not been able to move him yet. Chapin is well cared for in Richmond. I saw him yesterday; he says he wants for nothing. Sergeant Gardner, whose gallantry I have heard much of, is also there, getting on well. George Wear is improving, and will return to camp this week. Baker’s eye has recovered; he has gone back to camp; also, Hutson and Atkinson. They report on the well list again. Thompson is at Gordonsville, with a relative, doing well.

Sunday before last we gathered together under the shade trees which skirt our camp in the rear, and there offered our prayers and praises to Almighty God. The contrast between the two Lord’s days, and the difference of occupation, seemed to strike impressively the whole congregation, and I have seldom preached or prayed with a more solemnized people. I hear there has been a marked difference in the Legion since the fight. I am sure all at home will join me in the prayer that the impression may be lasting, and God’s work may be blessed by Him among them.

You may judge the coolness of some of our men on the day of battle by the following incident: Corporal Baker was shot in the eye, and , unable to see, he remarked to the Colonel, “My eye is shot out; what am I to do?” “Shoot with the other eye,” said the Colonel. “But I always shut one eye when I shoot.” “Well,” said the Colonel, “you are saved that trouble; one is shut for you; open the other and shoot.” Baker tried, but finding it impossible to see, he left the field; worn out, he took his seat at the foot of a tree, where, a few moments after, he found a companion. “Neighbor, where are you from?” said the Corporal, “Massachusetts,” said the fellow. “O, you are a Yankee, are you?” “Yes,” was the reply. Baker looked at the man, and, as well as he could see, he had no wound, and was armed. The Corporal had not even a pen-knife with him; he looked all around for a weapon, and his vision being very short, he could find nothing. After being in this disagreeable proximity for some minutes, he, in his usual quiet way, informed the Yankee he was going, and the fellow making no objections, the Corporal retired. There was a narrow escape. Gen. Beauregard’s remarks to the Legion, as near as I can remember them, were: Soldiers: You are all Carolinians, and it is not the custom of Carolinians to be conquered – forward!” One of the Zouaves said he had been wounded and taken prisoners, and carried to the rear of a South Carolina regiment, and while lying on the ground he saw one of the South Carolinians, who was severely wounded himself, crawl up to a stump, and load and fire his gun eleven times as he sat there waiting to be taken from the field. Who can conquer such a spirit as this? There is a very amusing anecdote told of Adjutant B. When in full pursuit, near Centreville, and officer appeared among them, moving around quite briskly. The Adjutant was quite suspicious of the stranger. “Who are you, sir, and what are you doing here?” “Me, sir, I am General S—, of Virginia.” “You may be General S—, but I don’t know you, sir.” “Don’t know me, sir?” looking around with great indignation, “why, everybody knows me about here. I am General S—.” “That may be, sir,” said the Adjutant, “but for the present you must keep in the rear.” At length a happy thought suggested itself. “Show me your shirt, sir.” “My shirt, sir, my shirt!” and with boiling indignation the General showed his shirt where the name was written in full, and the General received the apologies and the pass from the Adjutant. A hint to the home folks to mark all the clothes in convenient places. We don’t know when some more of us may find the same useful.

I am sending you these little incidents as I hear them well authenticated. They form, to the friends of the parties, part of the history of the glorious 21st. More anon,

Yours, the
Chaplain W[ashington]. L[ight]. I[nfantry].

Charleston Mercury 8/9/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy





William C. Heriot, Co. A, Hampton’s Legion, On the Battle

23 08 2011

Hampton’s Legion

We have been furnished with the following extract from our fellow-citizen, William C. Heriot, Esq., of the Washington Light Infantry, Hampton’s Legion, to his father in this city. It is dated:

Manassas Junction, July 23, 1861

My Dear Father: – I wrote to sister from Richmond, two days previous to our departure for this place, stating that Hampton’s Legion would move forwards for the seat of war in a few days. The Legion experienced very rough times on the passage to this place. We were two days and nights on our journey. The fare was very bad, but we had an abundance of water, which, you know, (being an old soldier) is a great desideratum. The inhabitants of the country were very loud in their demonstrations of joy on hearing that the Legion was on board the cars.

The face of the country is certainly grand and picturesque. You have a very fine view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The eye, as it ranges over the beautiful fields, is greeted everywhere with the sight of green foliage. This is a very abundant country. The stocks of cattle and sheep are equal to any in Kentucky or Tennessee. Large fields of clover are to be seen on all sides. The original soil is extremely fertile, and immense quantities of guano are used annually.

But I must endeavor to give you an account of the greatest battle ever fought in America, which occurred on Sunday, 21st July, 7 miles from this place. The battle commenced at daylight on Sunday morning at Bull Run. Hampton’s Legion arrived here at daylight on that morning, while the battle was going on. We partook of a cup o coffee and some dry bread, and marched immediately for the scene of action. We arrived on the battle field at 8 o’clock, and immediately commenced operations. Oh, what an awful day! The heart sickens at the sight of so much misery. We literally had to walk over the bodies of the living and dying. The force of the enemy is variously estimated. Some say 45,000 and I have heard it put down at 60,000. The Confederate forces consisted of about 20,000 men, commanded in person by Gen. Beauregard. What a noble fellow he is. We came very near losing him. His horse was shot under him. The immediate scene of operations extended about eight or nine miles. The battle continued until night put an end to the dreadful scene. Oh what a glorious, though dearly bought, victory for us. I, thank God, escaped with a little scratch over my nose, and a bullet struck me on the finger – pretty close shooting, don’t you think?

I have some Yankee trophies to show you, if I live to see you again, in the shape of a splendid overcoat and pistol case. The enemy fled in great confusion. We followed them as far as Centreville. We lost our noble Colonel, B. J. Johnson, and Col. Hampton was badly wounded in the face. I was standing within six feet of him when he was shot.

We expect to leave for Alexandria to morrow, when I will write you. God bless you, my dear father, sisters and brothers – guide and protect you. And should it be His will that we may meet on earth again, what pleasure, infinite pleasure, will it afford me to again shake the hands of those I love so affectionately. But these are dangerous times, and life is very, very uncertain. Again, God bless you all.

Affectionately, your son,

William

Charleston Courier 8/7/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy





John E. Poyas, Co. A, Hampton’s Legion, On the Battle (2)

12 08 2011

From Virginia.

We have been favored with another letter from Mr. J. E. Poyas, a member of the Washington Light Infantry Volunteers, Hampton’s Legion, to his sister in this city, which we publish (even at the risk of repetition,) believing that every thing concerning the Stone Bridge battle will be interesting to our readers

Manassas Junction, July 24, 1861.

My Dear Sister -

I trust my letter of Monday has flown to mamma on the wings of the lightning. I should have sent a telegram, but there were so many ahead of me, I thought it would be lost, or delayed until of no use.

The Legion has been baptized in blood, and have now a name to sustain, not to make. Would that we had been complete on Sunday, for with our artillery and cavalry we should have been equal to the hordes opposed to us, and instead of holding them in check, which we did for three hours, with scarcely any assistance, we would have driven them back or cut them to shreds before General Beauregard saw us on the field, and he would have been still more proud of his Carolinians.

On Sunday, 21st of July, at 7 A. M., the report of cannon was hard in the distance, and we knew that the battle had commenced. At eight we were formed into line and marched for the field.  After marching about four miles a scout came to us, saying the enemy were approaching in numbers on our left. The Georgia Regiment and a small battery (two pieces) of artillery were near us, and first engaged the enemy. We approached under cover of a slight elevation of the ground, but not unobserved, for before we were well in sight their batteries opened upon us, and we lay upon the ground with balls, grapeshot and fragments of shell falling thick and fast around us. Of course, our small force could not stand before their hordes in open field, and the Georgians with the artillery were forced back. We then approached, skirting a small wood on our right, and opened fire upon them. At our first fire their colors were shot down, and it was here than Bankensee and Phelps met their end.

We were soon obliged to fall back to a fence, and behind that to fight as long as we could stand, then to retire to a road in our rear, take to a ditch, and with a rail fence before us, to hold our position as long as possible.

It was here [Lt.] Col. Johnson was shot by the wretches who approached us with a Palmetto flag, and many of our men were wounded, but we made them pay dearly for their deception, by leaving hundreds of them stretched upon that portion of the field. Whilst we were in that ditch, Colonel Hampton, who had one horse shot, dismounted from his other, and joining us in the ditch, took a musket from one of the wounded men, and from that time until wounded late in the afternoon, fought with his men. I am happy to say that he is doing well, and was walking out yesterday. From that ditch and the fences around we fought from 11 A. M. to 5 P. M. At that time we took a park of nine pieces of artillery. The Richmond papers say the Virginians took it, but Gen. Beauregard says that ours is the credit, and it is certain that the Legion flag was the first over it, taken there by Corporal O’Conner, of our company – Sergeant Darby having become tired had given it to carry until he rested. Our company flags we were obliged to leave in Richmond. The staff of our Legion banner was struck by a ball. Colonel Kershaw’s regiment first came to our assistance from Bull Run. They were followed by Col. Cash’s regiment and (I think) Col. Jenkins’ regiment in the course of the afternoon. Old Jeff. [Davis] came upon the field at the head of a large body of cavalry, and completed the route of the enemy. Cols. Kershaw and Cash’s, one Mississippi regiment, Kemper’s battery from Alexandria, and a body of cavalry, with the Legion started in pursuit. Near Centreville they had halted – we formed the line of battle and Kemper opened upon them – and the Palmetto Guard, who were thrown out as skirmishers, gave them a volley, which sent them off howling, leaving their cannon and everything they had. As it was after sunset and cloudy, we could follow them no further, though the cavalry still kept up the chase. We have taken 1300 prisoners, 400 horses, 71 pieces of artillery, and property to an immense amount, in fact, I doubt if there has ever been so hard fought a battle or so complete a rout of an army on this Continent; perhaps never on either where there was such disparity of numbers.

According to the newspapers Gen. Johnston commanded our wing, but we never saw him, nor did we see Beauregard until 2 o’clock. Up to that hour, we could have been crushed at any moment, for the Yankees had ten to our one at the lowest calculation.

A Virginia traitor had furnished them with our countersign, and they had furnished themselves with a bogus Palmetto flag; had also recognized the Legion as soon as it appeared on the field, and paid it particular attention, but had not the pluck to press on and crush us.

Gen. Bonham, when last heard of, was in possession of Fairfax Court House, and is probably at this time in Alexandria, as a portion of our army has advance upon it, and report says taken it without firing a gun.

My opinion is that if we take Arlington Heights at once, we may be able to take Washington, and by so doing put an end to the war; but I am quite willing to leave the whole affair under God in the hands of those in whose care he has placed it.

As I have not mentioned Theo. G. Barker, our Adjutant, I must not close this rambling account of our first battle without saying, he was as cool and brave as it was possible for a man to be. After the fight we shook hands and congratulated each other on our safety. Our Captain is a trump – the ace of trumps – and we are all much troubled to think that he will be taken from us to be made a Major. Our Lieutenants all acted nobly; they told me they did not think I could have gone through with so much fatigue. I am very glad to say that Henry Middleton is doing well, ,and it is hoped he will recover. There is also hope for Green. Our frequent moves when the lines would necessarily be broken, made it particularly trying, for men when thrown into confusion are very apt to become panic stricken.

Virginians, Georgians, Alabamians, Mississippians, Louisianians and Carolinians, all did their duty, and entirely routed the Grand Army of the United States.

Charleston Courier 7/30/1861

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John E. Poyas, Co. A, Hampton’s Legion, On the Battle (1)

11 08 2011

Extracts from a Private Letter

[From a Member of Hampton's Legion]

We have also been favored with the following extracts of a letter from John E. Poyas, of the Washington Light Infantry Volunteers, Hampton Legion, written the day after the glorious battle of Stone Bridge.

Manassas Station, July 22, 1861

My Dear Mother -

Our  Legion (now the Legion) arrived yesterday morning just before day. At 8 o’clock we took up the line of march, and about the time that you were all going to church, met the enemy, almost seven times our number, and with the assistance of one Georgia Regiment and two pieces of artillery, fought and kept back this immense force for three hours, until General Beauregard, who was fighting another detachment at a distant point. could come to our relief. When I say the Legion, I mean six companies of infantry for our artillery and cavalry have not come on yet. It was a hard fight but a glorious one, despite the heavy losses on our side. We would see our comrades falling around us, but, until forced to retire to rally, could not stop to take them from the field.

As you may well suppose, from the great disparity of numbers, we were sorely pressed, but as often as we were driven from one position would [rally?] on our Palmetto and meet them at another, and in this way kept them back until about two o’clock. Gen. Beauregard came on the field and told us, “Carolinians you have done well – go on, and the day will be ours.” Soon after, Col. Kershaw with the 2nd Regiment of S. C. Volunteers, came on, [then?] we took the park of artillery which had galled us so severely all the morning. Then Col. Cash with another South Carolina Regiment arrived, and was soon followed by others that had been fighting at Bull Run. The enemy having been driven from that point united with those opposed to us.  By sunset we had driven them miles away towards Washington, having taken thirty pieces of artillery, some five hundred prisoners, and ten thousand stand of arms. [Lt.] Colonel Johnson was shot through the head early in the engagement. George Phelps was shot on my right about the same time and instantly killed. Blankensee, another private, was killed much around the same time. Robert [Bo???] was severely wounded, and has been sent to Culpeper hospital, where the sick and som of the wounded are sent to be nursed. H. Middleton and J. W. Green were dangerously wounded. A great many are severely wounded. Scarcely any one escaped without a scratch or blow. Two of our men are still missing.

Col. Hampton was shot in the face, the wound is not considered dangerous, he fought bravely, and [when?] his horse was shot, took a musket in his hand and fought with his men.

Capt. Conner was struck by a spent ball, which did no more than cut his coat, but would have killed had it penetrated.  [?] it was in the left breast.

One of the first shots fired at us struck a [?], and sent splinters flying, one of which gave me a slight blow upon the forehead above the left eye, and another on the left arm, but caused me no inconvenience, another struck Henry Baker in the left eye injuring it seriously.

The rascals pretended to be making battle at Bull Run – only a ruse to draw attention from the larger body which was trying to get round this place to take the rail road leading to Richmond. They also raised a Palmetto flag under cover of which one portion of their force came very near our Legion and fired upon us, but on our return [?] they were brought to a halt, and we gave them as good as they gave us. We were under Beauregard, but Jeff. Davis was also on the field, and, I think, must have satisfied “Old Fuss and Feathers” that he can’t compete with him. Scot had [?,000] men. We never had, during the day, more than [13,000?] engaged.

The rout was a glorious one, and when we came up with the fugitives they attempted to make a stand. As [?] [?] [?] lines were formed, and the Washington Artillery of New Orleans opened upon them, they took to their heels, leaving 21 pieces of artillery, all that remained of the once famous Sherman’s Battery among them.

P. S. – The President and Gen. Beauregard have called on Col. Hampton th thank him for the action of the Legion yesterday.

Charleston Courier, 7/29/1861

Clipping image contributed by John Hennessy





More Hampton’s Legion

7 08 2011

John Hennessy of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park is the gift that keeps on giving. Yesterday he sent me some great letters by members of Hampton’s Legion that appeared in newspapers shortly after the battle. Look for them in the days ahead, and be sure to follow John and the other good folks at F&SNMP here and here.





Notes to Charles Woodward Hutson, Hampton’s Legion, On the Battle

6 08 2011

The author of this stunning account of the battle, which he penned while recovering from his wound the day after the battle, became something of a celebrity late in life. Charles W. Hutson was born in McPhersonville, SC in 1840, and attended South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina). He served through the Civil War. After its end he was admitted to the bar, but eschewing the practice he taught throughout the south, including at the University of Mississippi, Louisiana State University, and Texas A&M. His subjects included Greek, metaphysics, moral philosophy, history, and modern languages. He also authored numerous books on civilization and languages.

After his teaching career ended, he settled in New Orleans and took up painting. Though his trained artist daughter offered to teach him the basics, he insisted on an amateur’s approach. In 1917, at the age of 77, his works were first shown publicly, in New York. His first one-man show came in 1931, at 91. He gained a solid national reputation, though his landscape artwork is hard to categorize. Here are some examples of his work.

Charles Woodward Hutson died in New Orleans in 1936, having proven you’re never to old to try something new.

Update – A friend in North Carolina left this comment, and it’s worth moving into the post:

Charles Woodward Hutson was a well-connected young man in South Carolina. His father, William Ferguson Hutson, was one of the framers/drafters of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession. On September 9, 1862, the elder Hutson wrote a letter to the Confederate secretary of war requesting a promotion to lieutenant and transfer for his son to the “Regulars of the State of South Carolina.” I think you’ll recognize the names of the three men who signed the letter of recommendation: “It gives me great pleasure to recommend the most favorable consideration of the Secretary of War for C. Woodward Hutson for the appointment of lieutentnant.” Signed: James Chesnut, Jr., R.W. Barnwell, D. F. Jamison.

Thanks, Tonia Smith!





Charles Woodward Hutson, Hampton’s Legion, On the Battle

6 08 2011

22d July, 1861, Monday
University at Charlottesville

Dear Father & Mother

I have been in a great & bloody battle & am wounded. Do not be at all alarmed. It is only a flesh wound in the head; and as the ball grazed the skull & glanced, there can be no danger. It is only through the Lord’s great mercy, that we were not cut to pieces to a man, so fearful were the odds opposed to our division. Friday night the six infantry companies of Hampton’s Legion took the train for Manassas. So slowly did we travel, that it was Sunday morning before we reached that point. Our breakfast was not cooked, when we heard the booming of artillery in the direction of Bull’s Run. Orders presently came, that we should hasten to the field, as soon as we had eaten something. In fifteen minutes more we commenced our march for the field of battle. We were taken around to the left of the place where the engagement began, in order that we might secure against a surprise of the Camp at Manassas. This was evidently the game of the enemy. They played us a ruse: the heavy cannonading near Bull’s Run was intended to deceive Beauregard into meeting them at that point with his whole force. Meanwhile an immense body of their troops advanced on the left with the intention of outflanking our main army, getting into our rear & seizing our fortified camp. They were held in check, however, by a few battalions, including our own & two Georgia regiments & perhaps one or two more. The whole battle was fought not far from the base of mountains, & the ground was very hilly; so that they were unable to perceive the immense disparity between their numbers & ours. Had they know how few were the forces between them & Camp Manassas; they would doubtless have advanced more confidently; & every man of us would have fallen upon the field. As it was, their movements were irresolute; they advanced & retreated alternately, & I suppose later in the day Beauregard must have come up with his main force to the assistance of our shattered columns; & then commenced the rout of the enemy. Terribly disproportioned as was our force, we held them in check for at least three hours. Nor was the disparity in numbers alone; the enemy were armed with the six-shooting revolving rifle, & their fire was incessant. Never have I conceived of such a continuous, rushing hailstorm of shot, shell & musketry as fell around & among us for hours together. We, who escaped, are constantly wondering how we could possibly have come out of the action alive. The words I used just now; “we, who escaped”, have a sad, sad sound to us; for we know not yet who are to be included in that category, & are filled with terrible anxieties as to the fate of dear friends. I must trace now to you my own course through the action, which I can or ought to do clearly enough, since, I was cool & confident from first to last, knowing where my trust was placed, that no real harm could befal me & that there was a duty before me which I must perform at every hazard. All of our men behaved gallantly, though few were free from excitement. After being marched & countermarched for some time almost within reach of the enemy’s missiles, we were thrown, by order of Gen. Bee who commanded us that part of the field, to the left of a corps of Flying artillery (I think the “Washington” of New Orleans), under shelter of a fence. Here we were first exposed to the hissing balls of the enemy; but the men took aim deliberately & stood fire beautifully. The artillery having then withdrawn from our side, we marched down the hill, unfortunately in disorder; we were halted halfway down in a hollow place, where we had the protection of a few trees & bushes. Here, seeing that our men hesitated to fire upon the force below, became doubtful whether they were not friends. I entreated the Captain to let me advance alone near enough to the ranks of those who were firing upon us to ascertain whether they were Federals or Confederate. But the Captain would not consent, & wished to go himself; this, however, Col. Hampton would not permit. Seeing, I could do nothing there, I attempted to persuade our men not to dodge, satisfied that we could never keep orderly ranks as long as the men persisted in dodging. But all my efforts in this line were unavailing; the men were fearless, & advanced undauntedly enough; but, I suppose, they thought dodging was a “help”, anyhow, to escape from the balls. Iredell Jones,& the officers kept erect; & neither they nor I were any the worse for it. Our next advance was to a fence in the valley at the bottom of the hill. Here we made a stand, & here our company fought absolutely alone, the other Legionary companies having retreated to a yard at the top of the hill, where houses gave them shelter. Here they reformed. Meanwhile our men were subjected to a raking fire. I was the first who fell. I had put on my spectacles, taken good aim & fired my first shot. As I was in the act of re-loading, a rifle-ball struck me in the head, a little above the forehead; & the violence of the concussion felled me to the earth immediately. I drew off my spectacles & flung them aside; & not believing my wound a bad one, as it was not painful, I attempted to reload. But the blood was gushing over my face & blinding my eyes; & I found it impossible to do so. I knew pretty well the extent of my wound, as I had probed it with my finger as I fell; & as the gash seemed to be a deep one, I feared faintness would ensue from loss of blood, especially as there was a large puddle of it where I first lay. So, I put aside my gun for a while, & put my white handkerchief inside my hat upon the wound & tied my silk one around the hat. By the time I had finished these precautions, the company were in retreat; & with Jones & a few others I made my way to the clump of trees, whence we had advanced. Here protected by the trees & squatted down, these few detached from the company continued the fire. Jones having given me some water from his canteen, & my eye being by this time wiped pretty dry of the blood, I again attempted to re-load. But before I could do so, a ball from the enemy shattered my rifle to pieces. I now made the best of my way to the shelter of the house on the hill, the shell & shot of the enemy ploughing up the ground at every step I took, & the musketry rattling like hail around me. I lay behind the house quite exhausted, & much pained by the sight of some of my comrades badly wounded. Dr. Taylor examined my wound here, & charged me to use all my strength to reach the Hospital. While I lay here the body of Lieut. Col. Johnson was brought into the yard & stretched at my side. He had been shot dead a few moments before, while riding fearlessly up & down the field. I remained at this place, until the companies there began to retreat yet farther back; when, seizing my smashed gun I hurried along by the gullies & other protecting places to a field beyond the line of the missles, which before flew so thick & fast around me. At the extremity of this field was a house used as a temporary hospital. This place I reached, & after resting awhile, walked to the wagons in the yard used to convey the wounded to the Camp. The ride in was a long & tedious one, & I very soon became aware that had I ventured to remain longer on the field, I should soon have dropped & been only a burden to retreating friends, or else have run the risk of falling into the enemy’s hands, a risk which I would have resolved, if possible, by forcing them to cut me down. When I reached the Camp, I found many wounded comrades there, who were under treatment. As the Hospital was crowded with groaning men, some undergoing the agonies of amputation, I very gladly accepted the kind attention of a gentleman named Lamotte, who soon proved that he understood well the art of dressing wounds. He trimmed closely the hair around mine, washed out the clotted blood, bathed the wound, ascertained that there was no split in the portion of skull exposed, & bound up my head nicely for me, strengthening me also with a glass of excellent whiskey. I felt much more comfortably, when this was done, & the encrusted blood, which stuck like a black mask to my face, was washed. Much of my hair is still clotted with blood. After getting a little supper & having deliberated on what would be our wisest course, most of us wounded who were safe in camp concluded, that, as no tents were pitched & we could not be cared for properly there, it would be best to go down on the evening train to Culpepper C.H. where the hospitals are. The cars were crowded with the wounded. At Culpepper we found that accommodations could not be had for all; & some of us came on to Charlottesville, where we already perceive that we shall not want for gentle tending. I am writing now on a marble table in the hall of the University, where the wounded are lodged. Two of my company, Atkinson & Gardner, are with me, the former wounded like myself in the head, the latter in the wrist & side. Before we left Camp we heard, that the enemy had suffered heavy loss, were in full retreat, & that Beauregard was in hot pursuit. Many regiments lost almost all their staff-officers; two Georgia ones lost all. Col. Hampton was, by one report, dangerously wounded; by another, dead. Our adjutant, Barker, was also said to be dead. The Legionary infantry was certainly much cut to pieces. Our cavalry & artillery were not in the action, not having arrived yet. All the forces, on both sides, must have been engaged; & if the enemy have met with a serious defeat, I imagine it will be the last general engagement. Patterson was taken & Col. Scott killed. Many prisoners were taken. Before we left, fifty eight were brought into the camp at Manassas. The battle lasted all day, & was very bloody. Early as it was when I was forced to retire, I met few, who were not hurt.

I brought off my knapsack with me, & will be quite comfortable. We are very uneasy about our friends yet unheard from. Many, I fear, whom I care greatly for, are now mangled or dead. At the last accounts, Conner was leading our shattered Legion & perhaps other officerless battalions, & pressing on the rear of the enemy within two miles of Centreville. I trust he yet survives. I long to hear how the Carolina regiments fare. Kershaw’s was in the battle; & you know I have many friends among them.

As soon as my wound permits, I intend returning to Manassas & making every effort to rejoin the army, wherever it may be. I hope to be able to bear arms again, before we enter Washington. You will see, by my writing so long a letter that I am in no danger from my wound. My head feels heavy, & the place throbs, that is all. I hope you are not too much troubled. My love to sisters & all the dear kinsfolk & friends.

Your Ever Loving Son
C. Woodward Hutson

How we ought continually to thank God for the mercies which he does so increasingly show us! The Dr. here has just dressed my wound, says it is an inch & a half long & would have gone deeper had it not struck the bone, says I am a very hard-headed fellow. He is a kindly, merry gentleman, & I like him much. He asked me if I was not related to Willy Wigg, knowing him well & knowing his middle name.

Transcription and Letter Image

Notes





#116 – Col. Wade Hampton

14 08 2008

Report of Col. Wade Hampton, Commanding Hampton Legion

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.566-567

HEADQUARTERS HAMPTON LEGION,

Camp Johnson, Broad Run, July 29, 1861

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that with six hundred infantry of my command I reached Manassas on the morning of the 21st, after thirty hours’ detention on the cars from Richmond. In obedience to orders to take position in the direction of stone bridge, ready to support any of the troops engaged in that quarter, I advanced with six infantry companies to Lewis’ house, the headquarters of General Cocke. On my way to this point a scout informed me that the enemy in great force had turned our left flank and were rapidly advancing. I immediately turned to my left at a right angle to the course I had been pursuing, and guided by the sound of a heavy fire which had just opened, marched towards their advancing lines.

Finding one of our batteries engaging the enemy, I took position to support it and remained for some time near it, but seeing that the enemy were closing in on my right flank, I moved forward to a farm house belonging to a free negro named Robinson, and took possession of the ground immediately around it. After being exposed to a heavy fire from Ricketts’ battery and musketry, I formed my men on the turnpike road leading to stone bridge in front of the farm-yard. A large body of the enemy, who were in advance of the main column, and who were within two hundred yards of the turnpike, opened fire on me as the line was formed. Under this fire Lieut. Col. B. J. Johnson fell, and in his fall the service sustained a great loss, while the Legion has met with an irreparable misfortune. He fell as, with the utmost coolness and gallantry, he was placing our men in position. In his death Carolina is called to mourn over one of her most devoted sons. As soon as my men came into position they returned the fire of the enemy and drove them back with loss into the woods on the top of the hill in front of us.

Their right wing then opened upon us, but after a brisk exchange of fire they retreated and planted a battery in the position they had just left. After this had played upon us for some time a strong force was thrown out, apparently with the view of charging upon us, but a single volley dispersed them in great confusion. They then formed beyond the crest of the hill and moved down to the turnpike on my left flank out of the range of my rifles. As soon as they reached the road they planted a battery in it, enfilading my position. As I was entirely exposed, I made my men fall back and form over the brow of the hill, where they were protected from the fire of the guns but not from that of the rifles. Here we were attacked by a column which came from the direction of the headquarters of General Evans, almost on our right, and we were nearly surrounded, the enemy being on three sides of us, and Generals Bee and Evans having both advised me to fall back, I gave orders to this effect, having held this position unsupported for at least two hours in the face of the enemy, greatly superior in numbers and well provided with artillery.

A short time before we retired, General Evans and Bartow, with the remnants of their commands, came upon the ground, joined with us in our fire on the enemy, and fell back with us. My men retired in good order to the hill just in our rear, bearing off our wounded, and formed near a battery (Imboden’s and Walton’s), which was just then put in position. Here, after indicating the place you wished me to occupy, you directed me to remain until you sent for me. The order to charge soon came from you, and we advanced to the Spring Hill farm house, (Mrs. Henry’s) under a heavy fire of cannon and musketry. In the face if this my men advanced as rapidly as their worn-out condition would allow, and after delivering a well-directed fire, I ordered them to charge upon the battery under the hill.

In leading this charge I received a wound which, though slight, deprived me of the honor of participating in the capture of the guns which had done us so much injury during the day. After being wounded I gave command of the Legion to Capt. James Conner, the senior officer present. He formed the Legion on the right of the regiment of Colonel Withers (Eighteenth Virginia), advanced directly upon the battery, passing by the right of the farm house down upon the two guns, which were taken. Captain Ricketts, who had command of this battery, was here wounded and taken prisoner. The enemy being driven back at all points, began to retreat before the forces which were rapidly brought up, and in the pursuit which followed the Legion joined, advancing two miles beyond the stone bridge.

The death of Colonel Johnson in the early part of the day having deprived me of the only field officer who was on the ground, I was greatly embarrassed in extending the necessary orders, and but for the constant and efficient assistance given to me by my staff officers in the extension of these orders, my position would have been rendered as critical as it was embarrassing.

The unflinching courage of the brave men who sustained their exposed and isolated position under the trying circumstances of that eventful day inspires in me a pride which it is due to them I should express in the most emphatic terms, under the terrible uncertainty of the first half hour as to the positions of both friend and foe. Compelled frequently during the day from the same cause to receive an increasing fire from different quarters while they withheld their own, the self-devotion of these faithful soldiers was only equaled by the gallantry of the officers whom they so trustingly obeyed. To the officers and men who followed and upheld our flag steadfastly during the bloody fight which resulted so gloriously to our army I beg to express my warmest thanks. Their conduct has my unqualified approbation, and I trust it has met the approval of their general commanding.

I regret to report a loss of fifteen killed upon the battlefield, four since dead, one hundred wounded, and two missing.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WADE HAMPTON,

Colonel, Commanding Legion

Brigadier-General BEAUREGARD,

Commanding Army of the Potomac





Preview: Cobb, Hicks, & Holt, “Battle of Big Bethel”

4 12 2013

Layout 1Brian Pohanka’s Vortex of Hell provides a pretty good account of the Battle of Big Bethel, in which the 5th New York Infantry played a prominent role. And typically those are the types of books you need to read to find out about the fight; Big Bethel, or Bethel Church, or Great Bethel, is a battle most often covered in works covering a wider time frame. Messrs. Cobb, Hicks, and Holt, with Battle of Big Bethel: Crucial Clash in Early Civil War Virginia, have turned a magnifying glass on this June, 1861 meeting of forces under Benjamin Butler and John Magruder. At 266 pages, it dwarfs any previous study of which I am aware (and if one exists out there, please let me know about it.) Cobb and Hicks are affiliated with the Hampton (Va) History Museum (the battle was fought near the York County town), while Holt is an attorney. The book includes numerous photographs and illustrations and clear Hal Jesperson maps describe the action. Footnotes – at the bottom of the page – have become a Savas Beatie staple. The bibliography lists a respectable number of unpublished primary sources and contemporary newspaper accounts, as well as the expected published primary and secondary sources (though not Vortex, which I imagine was published too late in the process.) I try not to give too much weight to blurbs (hell, even I wrote one, once), but endorsements from R. E. L. Krick and Edward L. Ayers bode well.





Correspondent Peter Wellington Alexander On the Battle

5 10 2013

The Battle of Manassas

Army of the Potomac,

Manassas, July 22, 1861

Yesterday, the 21st day of July, 1861, a great battle was fought and a great victory won by the Confederate troops. Heaven smiled upon our arms, and the God of battles crowned our banners with the laurels of glory. Let every patriotic heart give thanks to the Lord of Hosts for the victory He has given His people on His holy day, the blessed Sabbath.

Gen. Johnston had arrived the preceding day with about half the force he had, detailed from Winchester, and was the senior officer in command. He magnanimously insisted, however, that Gen. Beauregard’s previous plan should be carried out, and he was guided entirely by the judgement and superior local knowledge of the latter. While, therefore, Gen. Johnston was nominally in command, Beauregard was really the officer and hero of the day. You will be glad to learn that he was this day advanced from a Brigadier to the rank of full General. But to the battle.

At half-past six in the morning, the enemy opened fire from a battery planted on a hill beyond Bull’s Run, and nearly opposite the center of our lines. The battery was intended merely to “beat the bush.” and to occupy our attention, while he moved a heavy column towards the Stone Bridge, over the same creek, upon our left. At 10 o’clock, another battery was pushed forward, and opened fire a short distance to the left of the other, and near the road leading North to Centreville. This was a battery of rifled guns, and the object of its fire was the same as that of the other. They fired promiscuously into the woods and gorges in this, the Southern side of Bull’s Run, seeking to create the impression thereby that our center would be attacked, and thus prevent us from sending reinforcements to our left, where the real attack was to be made. Beauregard was not deceived by the maneuver.

It might not be amiss to say, that Bull’s Run, or creek, is North of this place, and runs nearly due east, slightly curving around the Junction, the nearest part of which is about 3 1/2 miles. The Stone Bridge is some 7 miles distant, in a northwesterly direction, upon which our left wing rested. Mitchel’s ford is directly North, distant four miles, by the road leading to Centreville, which is seven miles from the Junction. Our right is Union Mills, on the same stream, where the Alexandria and Manassas railroad crosses the Run, and distant four miles. Proceeding from Fairfax Court House, by Centreville, to Stone Bridge, the enemy passed in front of our entire line, but at a distance ranging from five to two miles.

At 9 o’clock, I reached an eminence nearly opposite the two batteries mentioned above, and which commanded a full view of the country for miles around, except on the right. From this point I could trace the movements of the approaching hosts by the clouds of dust that rose high above the surrounding hills. Our left, under Brigadier-General Evans, Jackson and Cocke, and Col. Bartow, with the Georgia Brigade, composed of the 7th and 8th regiments, had been put in motion, and was advancing upon the enemy with a force of about 15,000 while the enemy himself was advancing upon our left with a compact column of at least 50,000. His entire force on this side of the Potomac is estimated at 75,000. These approaching columns encountered each other at 11 o’clock.

Meanwhile, the two batteries in front kept up their fire upon the wooded hill where they supposed our center lay. They sent occasional balls, from their rifled cannon, to the eminence where your correspondent stood. Gens. Beauregard, Johnston and Bonham reached this point at 12, and one of these balls passed directly over and very near them, and plunged into the ground  a few paces from where I stood. I have the ball now, and hope to be able to show it to you at some future day. It is an 18-pound ball, and about 6 inches long. By the way, this thing of taking notes amidst a shower of shells and balls is more exciting than pleasant. At a quarter past 12, Johnston and Beauregard galloped rapidly forward in the direction of Stone Bridge, where the ball had now fully opened. You correspondent followed their example, and soon reached a position in front of the battlefield.

The artillery were the first to open fire, precisely at 11 o’clock. By half-past 11, the infantry had engaged, and there it was that the battle began to rage. The dusky columns which had thus far marked the approach of the two armies, now mingled with great clouds of smoke, as it rose from the flashing guns below, and the two shot up together like a huge pyramid of red and blue. The shock was tremendous, as were the odds between the two forces. With what anxious hearts did we watch the pyramid of smoke and dust! When it moved to the right, we knew the enemy were giving way; and when it moved to the left, we knew that our friends were receding. Twice the pyramid moved to the right, and as often returned. At last, about two o’clock, it began to move slowly to the left, and this it continued to move for two mortal hours. The enemy was seeking to turn our left flank, and to reach the railroad leading hence in the direction of Winchester. To do this, he extended his lines, which he was able to do by reason of his great numbers. This was unfortunate for us, as it required a corresponding extension of our own lines to prevent his extreme right from outflanking us – a movement on our part which weakened the force of our resistance along the whole line of battle, which finally extended over a space of two miles. It also rendered it more difficult to bring up reinforcements, as the further the enemy extended his right, the greater the distance reserve forces had to travel to counteract the movement.

This effort to turn our flank was pressed with great determination for five long, weary hours, during which the tide of battle ebbed and flowed along the entire line with alternate fortunes. The enemy’s column continued to stretch away to the left, like a huge anaconda, seeking to envelope us within its mighty folds and crush us to death; and at one time it really looked as if he would succeed. But here let me pause to  explain why it was our reinforcements were so late in arriving, and why a certain other important movement was miscarried.

The moment he discovered the enemy’s order of battle, Gen. Beauregard, it is said, dispatched orders to Gen. Ewell, on our extreme right, to move forward and turn his left and rear. At the same time he ordered Generals Jones, Longstreet, and Bonham, occupying the center of our lines, to cooperate in this movement, but not to move until Gen. Ewell had made the attack. The order to Gen. Ewell unfortunately miscarried. The others were delivered, but as the movements of the center were to be regulated entirely by those on the right, nothing was done at all. Had the orders to Gen. Ewell been received and carried out, and our entire force brought upon the field, we should have destroyed the enemy’s army almost literally. Attacked in front, on the flank and in the rear, he could not possibly have escaped, except at the loss of thousands of prisoners and all his batteries, while the field would have been strewed with his dead.

Finding that his orders had in some way failed to be executed, Gen. Beauregard at last ordered up a portion of the forces which were intended to co operate with General Ewell. It was late, however, before these reinforcements came up. Only one brigade reached the field before the battle was won. This was led by Gen. E. K. Smith, of Florida, formerly of the United States Army, and was a part of General Johnston’s column from Winchester. They should have reached here the day before, but were prevented by an accident on the railroad. They dashed on the charge with loud shouts and in the most gallant style. About the same time, Maj. Elzey coming down the railroad from Winchester with the last of Johnston’s brigades, and hearing the firing, immediately quit the train and struck across the country, and as a gracious fortune would have it, he encountered the extreme right of the enemy as he was feeling his way around our flank, and with his brigade struck him like a thunderbolt, full in the face. Finding he was about to be outflanked himself, the enemy gave way after the second fire. Meanwhile, Beauregard rallied the center and dashed into the very thickest of the fight, and after him rushed our own brave boys, with a shout that seemed to shake the very earth. The result of this movement from three distinct points, was to force back the enemy, who began to retreat, first in good order, and finally in much confusion. At this point the cavalry were ordered upon the pursuit. The retreat now became a perfect rout, and it is reported that the flying legions rushed past Centreville in the direction of Fairfax, as if the earth had been opening behind them. It was when Gen. Beauregard led the final charge, that his horse was killed by a shell.

We captured thirty-four guns, including Sherman’s famous battery, a large number of small arms, thirty wagons loaded with provisions, &c., and about 700 prisoners. Among the latter, were Col. Corcoran, of the New York Irish Zouaves, Hon. Mr. Ely, member of Congress, from New York, Mr. Carrington, of this State, a nephew of the late Wm. C. Preston, who had gone over to the enemy, and thirty-two Captains, Lieutenants, &c. We cam near bagging the Hon. Mr. Foster, Senator from Connecticut.

The official reports of the casualties of the day have not yet come in, and consequently it is impossible to say what our loss is. I can only venture an opinion, and that is, that we lost in killed, wounded and missing, about 1,500 – of which about 400 were killed. The enemy’s loss was terrible, being at the lowest calculation, 3,000.

Thus far I have said but little of the part taken by particular officers and regiments; for the reason that I desire first to obtain all the facts. Nor have I said anything of the gallant seventh and eighth regiments from Georgia. This part of my duty is most melancholy. It may be enough to say, that they were the only Georgia regiments here at the time, that they were among the earliest on the field, and in the thickest of the fight, and that their praise is upon the lips of the whole army, from Gen. Beauregard on down. Col. Gartrell led the seventh regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel Gardner the eighth, the whole under the command of Col. Bartow, who led them with a gallantry that was never excelled. It was when the brigade was ordered to take one of the enemy’s strongest batteries, that it suffered most. It was a most desperate undertaking, and followed by the bloodiest results. The battery occupied the top of a hill, on the opposite side of Bull’s Run, with a small piece of woods on the left. Descending the valley along the Run, he proceeded under cover of the hill to gain the woods alluded to, and from which he proposed to make a dash at the battery and capture it. On reaching the woods, he discovered that the battery was supported by a heavy infantry force, estimated at 4,000 men. The whole force, together with the battery, was turned upon the eighth regiment, which was in the van, with terrible effect. Indeed, he was exposed on the flank and in front to a fire that the oldest veterans could not have stood. The balls and shells from the battery, and the bullets from the small arms, literally riddled the woods. Trees six inches in diameter, and great limbs were cut off, and the ground strewn with the wreck. It became necessary to retire the eighth regiment, in order to re-form it. Meanwhile, Col. Bartow’s horse had been shot from under him. It was observed that the forces with which his movement was to be supported had not come up. But it was enough that he had been ordered to storm the battery; so, placing himself at the head of the seventh regiment, he again led the charge, this time on foot, and gallantly encouraging his men as they rushed on. The first discharge from the enemy’s guns killed the regimental color-bearer. Bartow immediately seized the flag, and gain putting himself in front, dashed on, flag in hand, his voice ringing clear over the battlefield, and saying, “On, my boys, we will die rather than yield or retreat.” And on the brave boys did go, and faster flew the enemy’s bullets. The fire was awful. Not less than 4,000 muskets were pouring their fatal contents upon them, while the battery itself was dealing death on every side.

The gallant Eighth Regiment, which had already passed through the distressing ordeal, again rallied, determined to stand by their chivalric Colonel to the last. The more furious the fire, the quicker became the advancing step of the two regiments. At last, and just when they were nearing the goal of their hopes, and almost in the arms of victory, the brave and noble Bartow was shot down, the ball striking him in the left breast, just above the heart. His men rallied behind him, and finding him mortally wounded and that the forces that had been ordered to support their charge had not yet come up, they gradually fell back, bearing him in their arms and disputing every inch of ground. I learn that they would never have retired but for the orders which were given in consequence of the non-arrival of the supporting force. It appears that the order to support our charge, like that to gen. Ewell, miscarried – a failure which had nearly cost us two of the best regiments in the army. Col. Bartow died soon after he was borne from the field. His last words, as repeated to me, were: “they have killed me, my brave boys, but never give up the ship – we’ll whip them yet.” And so we did!

The field officers of the Seventh Regiment escaped except Col. Gartrell who received a slight wound. All the superior officers in the Eighth Regiment, except Maj. Cooper, were killed or wounded. Lieut. Col. Gardner had his leg broken by a musket ball, and Adjutant Branch was killed. Capt. Howard of the Mountain Rangers from Merriwether county was also killed. But I shall not go into a statement of the killed and wounded preferring in delicate and painful a matter to await the official report, which I hope to get tomorrow, when I shall have more to say about our heroic regiments. I will add just here, that our loss in officers was very great. Among others may be mentioned Gen. Bee, Lieut. Col. Johnson of Hampton’s Legion, and Col. Thomas of Gen. Johnston’s Staff, and others. Gen. Jackson was wounded in the hand, and Col. Wheat of the New Orleans Tigers was shot through the body. Col Jones of the 4th Alabama Regiment it is feared was mortally wounded. The regiments that suffered most and were in the thickest of the fight, were the 7th and 8th Georgia, the 4th Alabama, 4th South Carolina, Hampton’s Legion, and 4th Virginia. The New Orleans Washington Artillery did great execution.

If we consider the numbers engaged and the character of the contest, we may congratulate ourselves upon having won, one of the most brilliant victories that any race of people ever achieved. It was the greatest battle ever fought on this continent, and will take its place in history by the side of the most memorable engagements. It is believed that General Scott himself was nearby, at Centreville, and that he directed as he had planned the whole movement. Gen. McDowell was the active commander upon the field.

President Davis arrived upon the field at 5 o’clock, just as the enemy had got into full retreat. His appearance was greeted with shout after shout, and was the equivalent to a reinforcement of 5,000 men. He left Richmond at 7 in the morning.

But “little Beaury” against the world.

P. W. A.

Savannah Republican, 7/27/1861

William B. Styple, Ed., Writing and Fighting the Confederate War: The Letters of Peter Wellington Alexander Confederate War Correspondent, pp 19-23








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