Wheat’s Battalion at Stone Bridge

29 11 2011

Wheat’s Battalion at Stone Bridge

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

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

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

New Orleans Bee, 8/1/1861.

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





8th Louisiana Infantry and Crescent Blues In the Battle

31 10 2011

 From the Seat of War in Virginia.
Special Correspondence of The Delta
Manassas Junction, August 5th, 1861.
(Extract.)

Since the battle of the 21st ult, large numbers of troops have been sent forward to this place, many more than enough to counterbalance all our losses. Indeed this division of the army is much stronger now than when it achieved its triumph over the enemy. It is strong enough to assume the offensive, and probably will do so within a brief period, but the when and the where cannot be prophesied by any but those with whom vaticination would be only explanation. I cannot, consistently with the dictates of Military propriety, give you any specific statement of the situation of our forces now lying between Manassas Junction and the Potomac. I can only state, in general terms, that great masses of our troops are far in advance of this position, that we occupy Fairfax Court House, Leesburg, and Vienna, in force, our army this occupying the Arc of a great circle, on the chord of which is situated Alexandria and Arlington Heights. Within the entrenched camp at this place, of course, there are strong reserves. This includes some of our Louisiana troops, the 8th Regiment, Col. Kelly, and the Crescent Blues, Capt. Goodwyn. Col. Kelly is now in command of this post. His regiment is, generally, in good health. In the country companies there is some sickness, principally measles; but in the city companies there is no sickness whatever. Captain Larose, of the Bienville Rifles, assures me that, in his company, there has not been a case of sickness since he left home. The Captain himself is safe and sound, in spite of the report that he had lost both legs in the last battle.

There was not a single man of the 8th Regiment injured in that engagement. Six of its companies were stationed all day at Mitchell’s Ford, on Bull Run, and were under fire of the enemy’s Batteries for most of the time; but being entrenched, they met with no casualty. They were ordered to the left just at the end of the affair but did not have a chance at the flying foe. The Crescent Blues, though about half of the company were engaged in the heaviest of the fight, were almost equally fortunate. They had but one man wounded, none killed. The history of the part taken by their company in the great victory, though yet unwritten, possesses a romantic interest for Louisianans.

The Crescent Blues are an independent company. On the morning of the 21st, they were associated with the Beauregard Rifles, a Washington City company, and the New Market Guards, a Virginia company, all under the command of Captain Schaeffer, of the Beauregard Rifles, and ordered to support Latham’s Battery a company of Lynchburg Artillery. For some reason, yet unexplained, the commanding officer ordered a retreat; but was directed by General Cocke to reassume his position and support Latham’s Battery at all hazards.

A second and third time the acting Major of the Battalion directed a retreat, stating (so it is said) that the day was lost, and that to remain was to court swift and certain destruction. Captain Goodwyn then remarked that he and his company had come there to fight, and not to retreat, and begged to be permitted to remain. The permission was given, and Captain Goodwyn then called for volunteers. His call was responded to by about fifty members of his own company; including Lieutenants Saunders and De Lisle, and a portion of the Beauregard Rifles. The rest of the battalion retired under the orders of the commander. Captain Goodwyn and his followers continued to support Latham’s Battery until they charged and captured Griffin’s Battery (three piece) and turned its guns on the enemy. Gen. Beauregard witnessed this brilliant exploit, and evinced his delight and approbation by riding up to the spot and shaking hands with many of those who had participated in the capture of the battery. Afterwards Capt. Goodwyn fell in with Col. Kershaw’s South Carolina Regiment, just as it was making the final charge on the enemy, and participated in the pursuit of the flying federalists as far as Centreville. I shall say nothing here of the conduct of Captain Schaeffer, as charges have been preferred against him, and he has demanded a court of inquiry, which is now sitting. Another case now under consideration is that of Capt. White, of the Tiger Rifles, who shot Captain G. McCauslin in a duel tha day after the battle.

Major Wheat, I am happy to say, is now considered out of danger. He is improving rapidly, so much so that he has been removed to Culpeper Court-House.

The Daily Delta, 8/13/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 113, pp. 43 – 45.

Notes





A Trophy From Manassas (Co. B, 8th Louisiana Infantry)

24 10 2011

Captain A Larose, of the Bienville Rifles, has sent home to Hon. S. P. Delabarre, of this city, the flagstaff and tassel of the notorious New York Zouave Regiment, which will be presented to the Sons of Louisiana Association, at the request of the captors.

The company are all in good health, and ready to meet and help run the enemy again.

The Daily Delta, 8/7/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 113, p. 54.








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