Unknown (2), 2nd S. C., On the Battle

14 02 2012

Battle Field of Bull Run, July 22.

The Approach of the Enemy – The Battle in the Distance – Ordered Into Action – Discouraging Accounts of our Wounded – Kershaw’s Charge up the Hill – Kemper’s Alexandria Battery – The Eight Palmetto Regiment to the Rescue – The Rout – Kemper’s Escape – Trophies, etc., etc.

After the repulse of the 8th inst., the enemy withdrew towards Centreville, and , except in burying the dead, appeared to be inactive during the 19th and 20th, until about midnight. At that hour, the rumbling of artillery over the stony roads, the barking of dogs, etc., etc., told that vast preparations for the attack of tomorrow were going forward. To the ears of the Kershaw’s Detachment, who were thrown out half a mile to the left, and in advance of our centre, Mitchell’s Ford, those sounds were quite distinct. At 5 1/2 o’clock a.m., a cannonading, on the right, begun, apparently from the point of attack of the 18th inst. A few minutes later, the firing of heavy guns was heard on the left, also, in the direction of the Stone Bridge. The calibre of the pieces was, evidently, from the sound, greater than that of those used on the 18th, and together with the peculiar whirr of the shells, and stunning detonation of the mortars, gave ample proof that the Northern generals were determined to use every effort to annihilate us that day, the memorable 21st, as they had promised to do on the first fair occasion. Gradually the cannonading on the left increased, whilst that on the left grew less. The post of the picket guard of the 2d Palmetto Regiment was upon a hill overlooking all the country to the north and westward. And from this point, curling up over the tree tops, which hid the battle field, could be seen the smoke, but nothing more. About 10 o’clock there rose a great shout, and a rumor soon came down to us that our boys were driving back the enemy. This seemed to be confirmed by the smoke, which receded to the northwest. The Confederate cavalry, too, were seen galloping in that direction, perhaps to cut up the flying columns of the Yankees. More than an hour passed on, and nothing of the strife is heard, but the roar of ordnance and the rattle of musketry.

Suddenly an order comes, borne, I believe, by Gen. McGowan, for the 2d and 8th Palmetto Regiments to hasten to the assistance of the left wing. Couriers are dispatched to Capt. Perryman, out scouting, and Capt. Rhett, on picket guard, to march across the fields to the left, and join their Regiment, the 2d which is on the march to aid the left wing. This Regiment, to which was attached Kemper’s Battery, followed by the 8th, Col. Cash, hurried to the scene of action. It was met along the way by numbers of the wounded, dying and retiring, who declared that the day had gone against us; that Sloan’s Regiment, the 4th, was cut to pieces; the Hampton’s Legion, coming to the rescue, and the Louisiana Battalion, were annihilated; the Gen. Bee and Col. Hampton were mortally wounded, and Col. Ben. Johnson killed; and that the Confederate forces were out-flanked and routed, and the day lost. This was the unvarying tenor of the words that greeted us from the wounded and dying and the fugitives who met us during the last mile of our approach to the field of battle. To the sharp cry of the officers of the 2d Regiment, “On, men on! these fellows are whipped, and think that every body else is,” the troops responded nobly, and closing up their columns, marched rapidly and boldly forward.

The fast flying cannon shot now cut down several of our number before we got sight of the foe. Presently they became visible, with banners insolently flaunting, and driving before them the remains of our shattered forces. But the 2d, undaunted by the sight, ployed column, and, with a shout, charged up the hill at the double quick. The Yankees could not stand the shock, and fell back into a wood on the west of the hill, pouring into us a galling fire. Driven through this wood, they again formed on a brigade of their men in a field beyond, and for half an hour a severe struggle took place between this regiment, with Kemper’s Battery attached, unsupported, and an immense force  of United States troops. We poured in a steady and deadly fire upon their ranks. While the battle raged, the 8th South Carolina Regiment came up, and Col. Cash, pointing to the enemy, says, “Col. Kershaw, are those the d—-d scoundrels that you wish driven off the field? I’ll do it in five minutes, by God!” “Yes, Colonel,” says Kershaw, “form on our left, and do it if you can.” In a few moments the 8th got close up on the left, and poured in a murderous fire, under which the enemy reeled and broke.

Again they formed on a hill, and new legions covering the hills around rushed to their support, but the terrific fire of Kemper’s Battery was too much for them. They reeled again and broke. “Forward, Second Palmetto Regiment!” says Kershaw. “Now is the time!” The Second and Eight now dashed forward, fast but steadily, and the victory was won. Throwing down their arms and abandoning their cannon, the United States troops fled precipitately. The Second and Eight pursued them to the Stone Bridge, about a mile, and there for the first time Kershaw received an order, since leaving the entrenchments. He had retrieved the lost battle and gained the victory of “Stone Bridge” with two regiments and a battery of four pieces.

Now we halted under an order from General Beauregard, not to engage the enemy, should he form again, without reinforcements. Such as could be had were now hurried up. He inspected the division, thus increased, consisting of the 2d and 8th South Carolina Regiments, the shattered remnants of Hampton’s Legion, about 150 strong, whom we had rescued (what with the killed, wounded, and those attending them, few were left in the field), and one company – partly of Marylanders, and partly of Crescent Blues of New Orleans. Kemper’s Battery had not been able to keep up with us in the flight of the enemy and our rapid pursuit, for want of horses. Ten minutes we halted, until joined by another small regiment – Preston’s Virginians, I believe – then moved on in the chase. Two miles further on, the cavalry joined us; but, finding the enemy posted on a hill, with artillery covering the road, we threw out skirmishers, and formed in line of battle. But the Yankees, after firing a few cannon shot and Minnie balls, again fell back. On we went, and Kemper having now overtaken us, we deployed, and allowed him to unlimber and give them two or three good rounds, which completely routed the Yankee column again. Their artillery, which was in rear, now plunged wildly forward upon the wagon train, overturning and jamming them in mad disorder. Sauve qui peut. Devil take the hindmost, became the order of the day, and the setting sun saw the grand army of the North flying for dear life upon wagon and artillery horses cut loose. They left in our hands thirty odd pieces of cannon, many wagons, an immense number of small arms, and plunder of every kind and description. To-day we can hardly recognize the members of our own company, by reason of their changed exterior. New habiliments and accoutrements abound. Truly, these fellows are well provided.

Thus you see that, on the right wing of the enemy, their chief force, the 2d and 8th South Carolina Regiments, assisted by Kemper’s Battery, maintained the day, and upheld the ancient honor of the State. As Jeff Davis, at a late hour yesterday, said, in urging forward the Mississippi and Louisiana Regiments, “The 2d and 8th South Carolina Regiments have saved the day, and are now gaining a glorious victory.”

During the action, the lion hearted Kershaw received no orders, and saw none of our Generals, but fought it out on his own plan – driving the enemy in immense numbers before him. Too much honor cannot be given to Capt. Kemper. His coolness and presence of mind was unshaken at any moment, and his rapidity and accuracy of fire was astonishing. At one time surrounded and taken prisoner, he owed his escape to his cleverness. As soon as he found resistance useless, he cast his eyes round, and, seeing a regiment of Virginians near, said, pointing to them, “Take me to your Colonel.” His captors ignorantly did as he suggested, and actually carried him into the midst of the Virginians before they saw their mistake. In a few moments he was rid of them, and again at the head of his battery, hurling destruction into the ranks of the foe. Kershaw and Kemper both deserve to be made Brigadier-Generals, as this great victory is undoubtedly due to their commands.

Hampton’s Legion and Sloan’s Regiment displayed the utmost gallantry, but, in the face of superior artillery and great odds, were not sufficiently sustained.

We hear that our troops succeeded in capturing cannon from the enemy’s left wing, also, to the amount of ten or twelve pieces. If that be so, we have captured forty odd pieces, amongst which is Sherman’s celebrated battery.

The Palmetto Guard have taken a flag, and one or two drums. The Brooks Guards have captured a flag staff and two kettle drums. The other companies have various articles.*

I have written the above in great haste, but the facts are correctly stated. I will give you some other incidents at another time.

Charleston Mercury, 7/29/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

*Both the Palmetto Guard and the Brooks Guard were companies in the 2nd S. C., and the tone of various parts of the letter seems to indicate a 2nd S. C. perspective. Therefore this correspondence is credited to a member of that regiment.

 





Crescent Blues In the Battle

22 11 2011

From the Seat of War in Virginia.

The Crescent Blues, and the Eighth Louisiana Regiment.

Leechman’s, near Manassas August 25th, 1861  (Extract.)

Having concluded our interview with General Beauregard we took leave of him, and proceeded towards our vehicle…and turned our horses towards Manassas station, passing on the way several encampments…We reached the station…halting our vehicles inside of the extensive fortifications thrown up around the depot…

We remained long enough to inquire after the Crescent Blues, the fine independent corps commanded by that gallant and accomplished young officer, McGavock Goodwyn. The Blues are now attached to the 49th Virginia regiment, commanded by ex-Governor Smith, of whose gallant conduct in the battle of the 21st General Beauregard speaks in the most glowing terms.

The Blues acquitted themselves very handsomely in the battle of the 21st though they complain much of the commander of the battalion to which they were attached, who would not allow them to charge when they were eager for it. It was not until Captain Goodwyn urgently entreated the Major to allow him to do a little fighting on his own hook that the Blues were allowed a chance to signalize their valor and soldiership, which they did with brilliancy and effect. They had but one man wounded.  There was no sickness in the camp of the Blues, a fact which attests the good discipline of their young commander. Let, however, the experience of the Blues admonish our young soldiers at home of the impolicy of coming on here in independent company organizations. The chances of such corps winning laurels are very poor. Nearly all those here have been detailed for special duty, generally very disagreeable duty for young soldiers; and when sent into battle, are attached to regiments and battalions whose officers and men are entire strangers to them.

A. W.

The Daily Delta, 9/3/1861.

Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 113, pp. 159 – 160.

Notes





Notes to Crescent Blues/Schaeffer’s Battalion

19 11 2011

This newspaper article (and this one, and this one, too) about a New Orleans company known as the Crescent Blues was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I didn’t have them listed on my Confederate Order of Battle, nor could I find them on any other OOBs in my collection. In fact the only place I could locate them, along with the rest of Schaeffer’s Battalion, was on Jonathan Soffe’s fine First Bull Run.com. See here. A. W. seems to be very prescient in his prediction that independent companies would find difficulty “winning laurels.”

It’s a little confusing, as W. F. Amann’s Personnel of the Civil War, Vol I, the Confedrate Armies lists both a Crescent Blues and a Crescent City Blues. By various accounts, the company was assigned the 49th VA Infantry for one month in September 1861; as sharpshooters to Company C of the Washington Artillery in October 1861; and Art Bergeron’s Guide to Louisiana Confederate Military Units 1861-1865 shows that McGavock Goodwyn ended the war as Lt. Colonel of the 15th Louisiana Infantry, of which Company B of the Crescent City Blues was Co. K.

I’m sure we’ll get this straightened out eventually.

I sent this clipping to Jim Burgess at MNBP, and got this response:

Schaeffer was attached to Cocke’s Brigade and they were positioned along Bull Run to the left of the 19th Virginia’s rifle pits above Lewis Ford. As the article states, they supported a section of Captain Latham’s battery but they were also in supporting distance of Lt. Heaton’s section of Roger’s Battery.   The article provides more details on their participation than I’ve seen before.  I was not aware a portion of the battalion joined Kershaw.  Nor was I aware of Schaeffer’s conduct which brought about the COI.

We are well aware of the duel between Captain White of the Tiger Rifles and Captain McCausland of Evans’ staff.  The duel took place on the grounds of the Pittsylvania plantation.      The cause of the quarrel is not entirely clear.   I suspect it was related to the movement of White’s company from Pittsylvania, where they had been initially deployed as skirmishers, to Matthews Hill, where they emerged in front of the skirmishers of the 4th S.C. and received (and returned) friendly fire.   White is believed to have accused McCausland of not delivering an order from Evans.  McCausland felt a need to defend his honor and challenged White.   Given the choice of weapons, White opted for the .54 caliber, M1841 “Mississippi” rifles with which his company was armed.  McCausland was mortally wounded in the duel and subsequently died at Pittsylvania.

Anyone with a line on the transcript or a summary of the Schaeffer court of inquiry (COI), please let me know.

Today, Crescent City Blues is perhaps best known as the smoky tune that would eventually become Folsom Prison Blues:





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





Trophies From the Field Sent to New Orleans

14 10 2011

The First Trophy From Manassas

The two brothers De L’Isle, members of the Crescent Blues, now in Virginia, have sent to their brothers here a medicine chest, a blanket, an overcoat, and an india rubber spread to place between the ground and the soldier’s blanket, which they secured from the debris of the battle field of Manassas. The articles bear the name of a long-legged soldier belonging to a regiment from down the east State of Maine. They may be seen at the office of the Fire Alarm Telegraph, City Hall.

The Daily Delta, 7/30/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 111, p. 125

Notes








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