SHSP – Maryland Line in the First Battle of Manassas

27 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXIV Richmond, Va., January-December 1906 pp. 170-178

First Battle Of Manassas

Dash and Heroism of the Maryland Line–Stonewall Jackson’s Flank Saved–Recollections Revived by the 45th Anniversary

A Paper read before the Isaac R. Trimble Camp, No. 1035, United Confederate Veterans, Baltimore, Md., October 2, 1906, by

Colonel WINFIELD PETERS, Maryland Member of the Historical Committee, and on Southern School History, U. C. V.

In the first Battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861, our First Maryland Regiment lastly and hotly engaged a brigade of the enemy from the edge of a woods overlooking a declivity, then a dry ditch at the foot, then a hill, on the crest of which the enemy was formed in battle line. We fired at point-blank range of, perhaps, 500 yards, awaiting reinforcements. The regiment was well dressed on the colors and the firing unobstructed, but the heat was intense, and the absence of wind prevented the smoke from rising; hence the view of the enemy’s line was now and then obscured.

HAIRBREADTH ESCAPE

In Murray’s company (second from the right) were Privates Geo. Lemmon, N.J. Watkins and W. Peters. Watkins was my file leader, and Lemmon was next on my right in the rear rank. Watkins knelt and fired, thus facilitating my firing, but shortly he rose to his feet, and in rising Lemon fired, sending the charge from his musket through Watkins’ cap, from back to front, and likely it passed through his hair. Seeing his cap flying in front of him, Watkins stepped forward at the risk of being shot, picked it up, and as coolly retook his place in the ranks. George Lemmon afterward told me–in his sly way–that he had two cartridges in his musket! Our cartridges contained a bullet and three buckshot (“buck and ball”). The firing was so deafening that no one could tell whether his piece was discharged. This was particularly so on our immediate right, where Jackson’s men were fighting desperately. It has been jocosely remarked that this was the only “wound” Nick Watkins got during the war.

SPLENDID CHARGE BY CONFEDERATES

Soon the Third Tennessee Regiment came up and promptly aligned on our right, and thereupon we were told that we must charge and carry the hill in our front. Immediately the two regiments–numbering together some 1,200–well aligned, charged out of the woods at “Double-quick,” “Charge bayonets,” with a ringing yell. At once the Yankees seemed to cease firing, and after we clambered out of the ditch they disappeared from the hill, the top of which we reached as speedily as possible. We expected, of course, to receive their fire at short range. Gaining the crest of the hill, a magnificent battle view was disclosed. Covering the hill were the wounded and dead of the enemy, and in our immediate front the Yankees we had fought were fleeing down the hill at a gait that we tired fellows could not duplicate. They must have started for the rear when we got out of the ditch and began to climb the hill in their front.

One of them said, after the war, that he did not stop running until he reached his home, Bangor, Maine. Another Yankee soldier, who was wounded in the face, was asked how that happened, as they all run at Bull Run. He said he “run a mile and looked back!

As we swept over the ridge, looking to the left, we could see the Tenth Virginia rallying upon the left of the First Maryland; thus precipitating the three regiments upon the enemy’s right flank, in the general assault that drove them in flight from the field.

While engaging the enemy from the woods, two six-pounder guns under Lieutenant Beckham, of Pelham’s Battery, took position on our left and fired effectively; also a squadron or two of Stuart’s cavalry were seen charging at the distance of perhaps 1,000 yards from our left, and on capturing the hill we could still see the cavalry sweeping toward the left front, following and charging the retreating Yankees. As stated, the Tenth Virginia Regiment, having reached the field and united with the Maryland and Tennessee regiments, we moved toward the Henry House, where the heaviest fighting had occurred, and halted at the captured guns of Rickett’s Battery, (U. S. regulars), which were being turned upon the retreating foe.

CARNAGE WAS AWFUL

The charge of the Maryland and Tennessee regiments, with the Virginia regiment aligned thereon; with a simultaneous advance of the Confederate lines; broke the enemy, who then began the famous Bull Run rout. The carnage here (the Henry House plateau) was awful, the first of many sanguinary battles to follow. Fatigued almost to exhaustion, without food or water, we were yet marched after the retreating Yanks, across the stone bridge, then back to the battlefield in the night, where we slept upon the ground as soundly and satisfiedly as victorious soldiers ever did under like stress.

The first Maryland Battalion, infantry, was formed at Harper’s Ferry in May, 1861, and became a regiment in June following, by the addition of more companies. They participated in the Valley campaign under Gen. Jos. E. Johnston, ending in the sudden movement of Johnston’s army, July 18, and the forced march to the support of General Beauregard at Manassas. The Fourth Brigade (under Colonel Arnold Elzey, of the First Maryland) was the last to reach the field of battle, July 21. Under the personal command of Gen. E. Kirby Smith, the Maryland regiment, upon detraining near Manassas Junction, was quickly started at double-quick to reinforce Stonewall Jackson, (who received his soubriquet that day), and the distance, about five miles, was made (it was said, in three-quarters of an hour) under the blazing sun, over a road so dusty that the clouds of dust raised by the brigade caused the enemy to conclude that large reinforcements were moving to the Confederate left, while on the other hand, the Confederate generals, not expecting Elzey’s brigade so soon, were apprehensive that the enemy was in their rear. Moreover, the colors could not be described, which dilemma resulted in the Stars and Bars giving place to the renowned Confederate battle-flag, having a St. Andrew’s cross on a red field–symbolical of suffering and blood–and was designed by General Beauregard, a Catholic.

Most conspicuous and inspiriting was the activity and manifest skill of General Smith, at the railroad. Seizing upon the First Maryland, when alighting, we were hurried into the road, ordered to place jackets and knapsacks under a nearby cherry tree, then formed column and moved off at “double-quick.” The General’s curt command was “Forward to the firing: The password is Sumter.”

The Maryland regiment (battalion of direction) nearing the battlefield was turned from the road into an open field, when, immediately, while in column of fours, they met a severe musketry fire, which disabled General Smith and others. Instantly, at double-quick, the column was deployed into line (right in front), and, charging, rushed to the woods from which the enemy were firing, causing them to retreat, and preventing them from forming in Jackson’s left rear.

PRIVATE SWISHER’S RASHNESS FATAL

Halting here, at the edge of the pine thicket, we were ordered to lie down, hence were protected from the enemy’s desultory fire, directed principally toward the colors, but, Private Swisher, of “A” company–next to the color company–more curious than the others, failing to obey the order to lie down, was killed by a bullet through his forehead. So anxious was Elzey to contribute to save the day and speedily, that, without waiting for reinforcements, we were soon ordered to “Attention,” and the regiment moved off by the left flank, in twos, then formed in battle line and advanced to support Jackson’s left, which they did and most opportunely.

FALLING FROM RANKS PERILOUS

Men famishing with thirst and hunger dropped in the rear to gather blackberries we were marching over, but instantly the gallant Geo. H. Steuart, lieutenant-colonel commanding, ran at them, with his sabre raised very ominously, yelling at them. “Get back in ranks: We may be cut to pieces,” and there was no more falling out of ranks. But, escaping the possible enfilading fire, the regiment pressed on until the enemy was met and defeated, as first related.

SMITH LEFT FOR DEAD: ELZEY SUCCEEDS HIM

Colonel Elzey was chagrined at General Smith’s superceding him and leading the Maryland regiment to the battle. Seeing Smith fall, Elzey–oblivious to the perilous situation–exclaimed to Major Bradley T. Johnson: “God is just; Smith is dead! Johnson, get his horse. This means for me six feet of ground, or a yellow sash”–worn only by generals. The horse ran off and the gallant major was suffering from scurvy.

Elzey, though brave, was presumptive; moreover, he did not possess the calibre of Smith. Smith had immortalized himself, and recovering from his almost fatal wound, he returned to us a Major-General. The sequence is strange: Almost a year thereafter, Elzey, commanding his brigade in the battle of Cold Harbor, received just such a wound as Smith’s, which likewise made him a Major-General.

ELZEY, BLUCHER OF THE DAY

It happened that about the time the Maryland regiment reached the battlefield President Davis also arrived, having come from Richmond by railroad and ridden on horseback from Manassas. He was first seen among the troops fighting on Jackson’s right, encouraging and rallying them. Jackson sent to inquire what civilian was rallying his men, and the information brought back was satisfactory. Jefferson Davis at that period was rated among the elite of living American soldiers. Having learned of the conduct of the Maryland regiment, the President promptly rode over, and saluting our colonel, addressed him as General Elzey, and General Beauregard dubbed him the Blucher of the day. Nevertheless, had we been 15 minutes later in checking the enemy, advancing, there would, probably, have been no Blucher of Manassas, because they would have enveloped Jackson’s left flank, which, with the extreme left–two regiments under Colonel Jubal A. Early–must have retired, and quite likely not in the best order, judging from the evidences of demoralization we witnessed during the last half of our march. A regiment was seen resting by the roadside, and scores of men were leisurely making for the rear, who, replying to anxious questions as to the progress of the battle, answered, to a man, that our army was defeated. General Smith (riding at a trot, we at double-quick step), would now and then turn to us and in a commanding tone exclaim: “Pay no attention to those skulkers and poltroons.  Follow me to the firing!” In truth, the energy and brave example of the General inspirited us, despite our well nigh exhausted condition, to arrive at the right time, at the right place, make the dash, follow it up and drive the enemy from the field. And it was the first display of the skill and bravery in battle characteristic of the Southern West Pointers. Johnston planned, Smith, Elzey and Steuart led. With the three typical regiments, at the critical juncture of the day, the Yankees were fated on that field. Jackson would gladly have led us on to Washington, and he said so, but was not permitted, nor perhaps consulted, but the fatal mistake was discovered ‘ere long. And victory always followed Jackson. A word as to this a little further on.

That the loss in killed and wounded in the First Maryland was not greater was because of their promptness, energy and dash in responding to orders, and the ready skill of our leaders. A noteworthy case of a badly wounded man was that of Sergeant John B. Berryman, (a file closer) of “C” company, (first from the right), who fell simultaneously with General Smith. He kept his bed during nearly the entire war, and the ill-effects from the wound never ceased until he died, on January 21, 1898, 36 years and 6 months from the day he was wounded, the anniversary of the birth of Stonewall Jackson, to whose aid Berryman was hurrying when shot.

SMITH’S BRIGADE SAVED THE DAY

There appears in the Confederate Veteran, August, 1906, pp. 364-65, the following: “Concerning Military Career of General J. E. Johnston, President Davis wrote, February 18, 1865: “Indeed we were saved from a fatal defeat at the First Battle of Manassas only by the promptness of General E. Kirby Smith, who, acting without orders and moving by a change of direction, succeeded in reaching the battlefield in time to avert a disaster.” Note the words “fatal defeat,” etc.

STONEWALL JACKSON’S WAY

Jackson’s magnificent victory and the unparalleled valor of his Stonewall Brigade seemed to be ignored. With a bullet broken finger, he was left to mutter: “With 10,000 such men I could take Washington.” Jackson could see the way; the two commanding Generals and the President–who deferred to them, as he said–could not. Johnston said: (repeating it to me and others, after the war) “We cannot cross a river a mile wide and 18 feet deep.” Jackson and Stuart would have found Seneca ford, on the Potomac, 12 miles above Washington, easily fordable. The day after the battle, we had, with reinforcements, 3,000 cavalry on the field. Jackson would have interposed between Washington and the Federal forces in the lower Valley under Maj. Genl. Patterson. The dread of “rebel cavalry” and “masked batteries” would have intensified Jackson’s advance and the Washington Government would have fled the city, or capitulated.

The First Maryland did their work in this (their first) battle in Stonewall Jackson’s way, fourteen months before the famous war lyric, “Stonewall Jackson’s Way,” was penned–under the inspiration of the guns at Sharpsburg, by Dr. John Williamson Palmer, of Baltimore. To find the enemy, go at him, quickly, rush upon him and keep it up; ‘trust in God and keep your powder dry;’ was Stonewall Jackson’s way.

COLONEL JOHNSON THE STAR SOLDIER

The star actor in the First Maryland was Bradley Tyler Johnson. Its last colonel, he led it through the Valley and Richmond campaigns, and until, in August, 1862, reduced to one half its original strength, the regiment was mustered out of service, by some occult method in the Richmond War Office. Colonel Johnson was justly indignant and refused to make a request to have the order rescinded, whereupon, General Jackson assigned him to the command of the Second Brigade in the Stonewall Division, which fought heroically at the Second Battle of Manassas.

HEROIC CAPTAIN MURRAY AND HIS MEN

Captain Murray’s company was mustered out of service, June 18th, 1862–the one year term of enlistment having expired–but they, with few exceptions, served faithfully to the end, whether re-enlisting or commissioned. The aggregate muster roll was about 120. With the First Maryland, they participated in General J. E. Johnston’s Valley campaign, 1861; the Manassas campaign, 1861-1862; and in Stonewall Jackson’s Valley campaign, 1862. Captain Wm. H. Murray of our “H” Company–the crack company of the regiment–was a young officer of exceptional merit and promise and greatly beloved.

Leading his Company “A,” Second Maryland Infantry, Captain Murray fell in the desperate charge at Gettysburg, the morning of July 3d, 1863. Gettysburg had no sublimer hero than Murray, the typical captain of the Maryland infantry. Major Goldsborough–intrepid and skillful–commanding the battalion, before advancing to the charge, said to him: “Captain Murray, I have the most implicit confidence in your ability to lead’ our men. Take charge of the right wing: I will look after the left, as I know them better.” Thus, on that bloody, fated field, these two best line officers parted forever. Murray, in the fore front, killed; Goldsborough, thought mortally wounded, but recovered; likewise Lt. Col. Herbert, in the successful charge the night before; two-thirds of the battalion dead or wounded. Though repulsed, by heavy odds, behind rifle trenches, the shattered regiment retired in good order and were not pursued.

Of the two soldiers first before mentioned; Geo. Lemmon became an ordnance officer and served with credit on the staffs of distinguished Generals. He died August 29, 1905, having on August 25th passed his 70th year. Mr. N. J. Watkins, who afterward served in the Signal Corps, is the well known, able journalist. Of the third, who was promoted to a lieutenancy: the late General Bradley T. Johnson, not long before he died, wrote: “Peters is the best all around assistant adjutant general I ever met. I have known him since 1861. Can do anything he undertakes and do it better than anyone else.” In addition to these, the Baltimoreans, still living, who were under Captain Murray at First Manassas, are: Captains Clapham Murray, his brother, and McHenry Howard, General John Gill, Col. Frank Markoe, Major Jas. Wm. Lyon, Judge Daniel G. Wright, Lieutenants Charles B. Wise, Charles E. Grogan, David S. Briscoe. Thomas B. Mackall and Winfield Peters; Privates, J. McKenny White, Sommervel Sollers and J. Southgate Lemmon. Rev. Randolph H. McKim. D. D., is in Washington, D. C.; Lieut. Richard T. Gilmor and Private Henry F. Schliephake are at the Confederate Soldiers’ Home, Pikesville, Md.; Captain Frank X, Ward and Private Fred’k L. Pitts, are in Philadelphia, Pa., and Private Duncan M. Turner is in Leonardtown, Md. These are probably the only survivors.

A broken shaft of marble in the Confederate burial plot, in Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore, to Murray and his men, tells the sixty who gave up their lives in the Confederate struggle: about one fourth of the whole number mustered.

THE ONLY CONFEDERATE MONUMENT AT GETTYSBURG

The monument is the tribute of the Murray Confederate Association, who, likewise, were instrumental in erecting the massive granite monument to the Second Maryland Infantry, on Culp’s Hill, Gettysburg; the only one thus far permitted by the Gettysburg National Cemetery authorities to Confederates, to be placed so near the Federal lines. But, they had to concede that the Maryland regiment took, occupied and held (July 2 and 3) the place where their monument stands. Indeed, the bloody charge on July 3 was made at a distance beyond it. This Maryland monument, erected in 1886, stands to-day the only Confederate monument on the battlefield of Gettysburg.

COLONEL PETERS AND CAPTAIN LEMMON BURIED ALMOST SIDE BY SIDE

Private Lemmon received deserved promotion. Years after the war, General William H. Payne, on whose staff he had served, paid him a sly compliment. “Lemmon,” he said, “I sometimes didn’t know whether you were on my staff or I on yours.” George Lemmon was a true type of a Maryland soldier and gentleman, and was as intelligent as he was brave. He was destined to die while traveling and approaching the old Manassas battlefields. He died on the fortieth anniversary of the death of my father–which resulted from service in the Confederate Army–Colonel George Peters, commanding the old First Rifle Regiment, Baltimore, many men from which entered the Confederate service, at the very beginning, assisted by the colonel and myself, lieutenant and paymaster. Col. George Peters and Captain George Lemmon lie a short distance apart in Greenmount Cemetery, awaiting the last trumpet call.





SHSP – General Eppa Hunton at The Battle of Bull Run

26 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904, pp 143-145

General Eppa Hunton at The Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861

Statement That he Saved the Confederate Army from Defeat

A writer signing himself “C” contributed to the Prince William Times of July, 1904, the following interesting story of the first battle of Manassas:

The writer of this has read and heard so many conflicting accounts of the first battle of Manassas, and commented publicly on some of these as to make it impossible to conceal his name if he tried to do so. Recently he has been persuaded to write a plain account of what he saw and knows to be true in relation to this battle.

The Confederate forces had for a week been fortifying at the stone bridge against a front attack. I was engaged in cutting a heavy body of timber out of the way on the bottom land leading to the bridge, so as to enable our artillery to sweep the turnpike and adjacent low land, for over a mile in the direction of Centreville, and had just finished this work when the enemy attacked at Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s fords. There was so little blood shed, and the Federal forces were so easily repulsed, that I began to look upon the whole movement as a feint, and believe it is now generally so regarded.

On Saturday, July 20th, I had occasion to ride over into Prince William, and met the 8th Virginia, commanded by Colonel Eppa Hunton, who had been ordered to the next day’s battlefield. We were then old friends, and are such still. He had the Loudon Cavalry with him. In a brief interview I told him I believed the attack would not be made at the stone bridge, but by way of the Braddock Road, and the “Big Woods” (all upper Fairfaxians will know what I mean by Big Woods), and also that our people were not picketing north of the stone house, and suggested that a squad of the cavalry be left at my house on the Sudley Road to prevent a surprise. Colonel Hunton replied: “Your suggestion is a good one, and I will adopt it at once, trusting you to act for me as commissary and quartermaster for the time being.”

He sent Sergeant Amos Slaymaker, Private Hansbrough and four others whose names have escaped my memory, to my house with orders to keep a strict watch night and day, and to report to him at once so soon as any Federal advance was seen. This order was well obeyed, as the sequel will show. One thing not exactly germaine to the point, I cannot refrain from mentioning. It showed Colonel Hunton’s regard for his men. He said:

“Have you got anything in the way of cooked rations you can send my men about nightfall? They have been marching all day long without anything but an early breakfast.” I replied “that I had not, but said I would go home, have four or five lambs killed and cooked, arid all the bread we could cook, and send it to his camp by dark.”

The servant I sent the provisions by delivered all safely, and in doing so had to run the gauntlet of the Tiger rifles. These fellows claimed to be Colonel Hunton’s men, but some of the 8th being on the lookout, came to his rescue, and saved the lambs in short order.

Now, to the point. Who saved the Confederates from a disastrous surprise on July 21, 1861? I will endeavor to prove that General Hunton was the man.

The people in the vicinity of the battlefield were in possession of information that a battle was imminent, and were on the lookout. On Saturday evening, July 20th, Captain J. D. Debell, of Centreville, who had been in our vicinity for several days, came to Sudley and remained that night. He believed with me that the advance would be made through the route referred to, and Bull Run passed at Sudley Ford. He had a field-glass, small, but a fairly good one. Exactly at sunset he, Sergeant Slaymaker and myself discovered by the use of the glass eighteen or twenty blue-coat infantry inside of an open field, and not over thirty yards from the woods road we expected the enemy to follow. We were on this road, in a direct line, a mile and a half distant from them. Slaymaker sent information to the Colonel at once, and he (Colonel Hunton) sent word to General Beauregard by the same messenger. Slaymaker held his post until the advance of Tyler’s division drove him from it. I remained at home until the infantry advanced to within three hundred yards of me, and retreated to the battlefield. I saw the firing of infantry, and the mad rush of the Federals down the Henry Hill to get out of harm’s way. Taking into consideration the fact that Colonel Hunton got Sergeant Slaymaker’s report at 7:30 A. M., and that the battle was on before 10 A. M., I cannot reconcile the report of some of General Evans’s friends that he discovered the advance of the army through a signal station that he had established a day or two before on Hooe’s Hill, below Manassas, with what I saw and know. I am very sure I am correct in my opinion that General Eppa Hunton is entitled to the honor of being the officer who prevented the defeat of the Confederate forces on July 21, 1861.





SHSP- Thirty-third Virginia at First Manassas

25 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXIV Richmond, Va., January-December 1906, pp. 363-371

Thirty-Third Virginia at First Manassas

Colonel Cummings Takes Liberties with his Orders and Does Good Work

Colonel J. W. Allen’s Report–Interesting Recollections of Deeds of Valor at First Manassas Battle

From the Times-Dispatch, June 4, 1905

The fame of “Stonewall Jackson” overspread the Henry Hill combat at Manassas, 21st of July, 1861, but the reports of all his regimental commanders having been lost, no official record clarifies the movements and achievements of his five regiments on that day. The recent discovery and publication in The Times-Dispatch of Colonel Kenton Harper’s report of the Fifth Virginia Infantry, have fixed the movements of that regiment, and various communications from reliable officers and men have well nigh completed the history of the brigade on that occasion. Colonel Arthur C. Cummings, of Abingdon, commanded the Thirty-third Virginia Infantry that day. He had served in the Mexican War, and was a highly accomplished soldier and gentleman, worthy of higher command than befell his lot. His recent death has brought the name of this modest and heroic man again before the public. He shunned notoriety of all kinds, and rested content in “the conscientiousness of duty faithfully performed.”

Captain John H. Grabill, of the Thirty-third, who was with his regiment in the Manassas battle, and has kindly furnished’ me a brief statement and also with a pretty full account from Colonel Cummings, contained in a letter addressed to Captain Grabill at Woodstock, where he lives, dated May 16, 1898. It is due to history that these memorials of a brave regiment and of valiant deeds that had no little to do with the Confederate victory, be published. Captain Grabill relates his distinct memory of the charge of the Thirty-third, and that it was against the Brooklyn Zouaves (the Fourteenth New York), and a Michigan Regiment (the Michigan then commanded by Colonel, afterwards Major-General Orlando B. Willcox), who was at the front of the Federal battery. He says: “They were driven over their own battery by the charge of the Thirty-third,” and the battery captured as related by General Cummings. After the battle was over, General Jackson rode to one of the field hospitals. As he sat upon his horse he looked steadily upon the dying Captain Lee, of the Thirty-third, who was propped against a small tree, and made this remark: “The work Colonel Cumming’s regiment did today was worth the loss of the entire regiment.”

LOCATION OF THE GUNS

It will be observed that in Colonel Cummings’ description of the action, he says: “The pieces taken by the Thirty-third were situated considerably to the left (as we were facing) of the Henry House, and the pieces taken by the other regiments of the brigade were somewhat on the same line, but nearer the Henry House.”

I have no doubt that this statement as to the location of the guns is correct. Major R. W. Hunter, who was at that time first lieutenant and adjutant of the Second Virginia Infantry, which was immediately on the right of the Thirty-third, confirms Colonel Cummings’ statement, and I have seen similar statements in other accounts of the battle. The History of the Ulster Guard, a New York regiment, by Colonel Gates, who commanded it, contains a description of the battle at this point very much like that of Colonel Cummings’.

Confusion has arisen in some of the versions of this conflict, by the writer’s failing to distinguish between the separated guns that were taken by Colonel Cummings and those subsequently carried nearer to the Henry House, when the whole field was swept in the final Confederate charge.

ANOTHER FITZ LEE

The Captain Lee referred to by Colonel Cummings was William Fitzhugh Lee, born in Richmond, but then of Alexandria, the son of Rev. William F. Lee, and he was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute in the class of 1853. Two years later he became a lieutenant in the United States army. When the war broke out, he was on duty at the St. Louis arsenal, and he resigned to follow the fortunes of his State. He was soon appointed a captain in the Confederate army, and then lieutenant-colonel of the Thirty-third Virginia Infantry.

THE SECOND TO THE FRONT

Just after that sally of the Thirty-third, the Second Virginia Infantry, under Colonel James W. Allen, which was the next regiment to its right, advanced to the assault. Colonel Allen, born in Shenandoah, had moved with his father’s family in boyhood to Bedford County, and had attended the old New London Academy. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1849, and became there an assistant professor of mathematics after first teaching at the Piedmont Institute in Liberty. No report from him appears in the war records, but an extract from it is found in “The Memorial of the Virginia Military Institute,” by Charles D. Walker, p. 324, which indicates that it has been published in the press, and it happily preserves the continuity of the story of the Stonewall Brigade at Manassas. Colonel Allen had but one eye, and during the cannonade which preceded the infantry combat on that day, a shot cut off the limb of a pine tree and hurled it in his other eye, temporarily blinding him. He afterward greatly distinguished himself, and was killed while in command of the brigade at Gaines’ Mill, June 27, 1862.

COLONEL ALLEN’S REPORT

In the report of Colonel Allen of the action of his regiment on the occasion referred to, he says:

“About 1 P. M. I was directed to station my regiment at the edge of a pine thicket to support the battery immediately on my right, with orders to fire when the enemy appeared in sight over the hill, then to charge and drive them back with the bayonet. In this position my men lay somewhat under the cover of the hill for more than an hour and a half, during all of which time they were exposed to the effects of shell and shot from the enemy’s batteries, which had advanced, under cover of the hills, to my left flank. Many of my men and officers were wounded by explosions that took place immediately in their midst; yet they stood their ground, awaiting the approach of the infantry. Colonel Cummings, on my left, met them, endeavoring to turn their flank. After advancing, two of his companies fell back through my left, which was kept in position by the coolness of Captain Nelson, who gallantly maintained his position, though exposed to a front fire of grape and shell, and a flank fire from the enemy’s musketry. At this juncture I was informed by Major Botts (whose coolness, energy and perseverance in rallying the men deserves special mention) that my left was turned. Not seeing the enemy in front, I directed that the three left companies be drawn back to meet them. This order was partially misunderstood by the centre companies for a general direction to fall back, and all the line turned. I at once gave the order to charge, but the thicket was so close and impenetrable that only a part of the right wing, under Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, could be rallied about thirty yards in rear of the original position, the enemy having advanced to the position originally held by the left of the regiment, judging by their fire, for it was impossible to see them.

SPECIALLY MENTIONED

“At this moment Colonel Preston, who was on my right, and in rear of the battery, advanced, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, with about one hundred of my right, charged on the enemy’s batteries, drove them from their pieces, and took position immediately in front of the guns, sheltering themselves as much as possible by them. Wishing to secure one of the rifle cannon, he ordered five or six men to take it to the rear, but had not proceeded more than fifty yards, when the enemy opened on his right, which was unsupported, and he was compelled to retire with the few men under his command, having lost nine killed and thirty-four wounded in the charge. The line did not retire until after our battery was withdrawn.

“The list of killed and wounded having been handed in, it is unnecessary to repeat it. I cannot, however, close this report without again making honorable mention of Captain Nelson, who gallantly fell at his post, supposed to be mortally wounded, and to the gallantry of Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, who, with but a handful of men, charged on the enemy’s battery and actually brought one of their rifled guns to the rear, with but four men.”

Colonel Allen’s reference to the appearance of Colonel Preston, “who was on the right and in the rear of the battery,” denotes the time when Jackson’s right centre advanced under his immediate direction. This was the third and effectual movement which carried the position defended by Griffin’s and Rickett’s one of twelve guns, which were posted near the Henry House, some of them being turned on the front of the Second and Thirty-third Regiments, and the most of them on the batteries of Pendleton to the right of these regiments, and on the front of the other three regiments of the brigade; i.e., the Fourth, Twenty-seventh and Fifth. When Colonel James P. Preston went forward with the Fourth, the Twenty-seventh, under Lieutenant-Colonel John Echols, moved simultaneously, and the two regiments commingled at the captured guns, each losing heavily in the charge.

From the material collected in the contribution to The Times-Dispatch, the historian, with the aid of the War Records, can now compute the complete story of the Stonewall Brigade at First Manassas.

JOHN W. DANIEL

—–

Colonel Cummings’s Account

On the night of the 20th of July, 1861, our army lay in rear and facing Bull Run, the right resting near Union Mills, and the left at the Stone bridge. General Beauregard expected to be attacked the next morning on the front and right, but very soon in the morning he and General Johnston saw that the enemy was moving on the Centreville road, in the direction of the Stone bridge, with the view of attacking and turning our left flank, the demonstration on our front being only a feint. Leaving a force to protect our right, the rest of the army, except the command at or near the Stone bridge, already engaged, were moved along and in the rear of Bull Run to reinforce the troops already engaged, and to resist the attack on our left.

The Stonewall Brigade, after being halted several times, reached the brow of the hill or ridge. The centre of the brigade, when thus formed in line in a pine thicket at the edge of the plateau, was about opposite the famous Henry House, After the brigade was formed in line, we were ordered to lay down in the edge of the pines. This was about 12 or 1 o’clock, and the battle had then been raging for hours, and our troops were being driven back. As the brigade was then in line, the Thirty-third was on the left and was at that time the extreme left of our army. On its right the Second, Fourth, Twenty-Seventh and Fifth–the latter, as I understand, a little detached from the balance of the brigade. [The Fourth was in line behind Colonel Pendleton's batteries, and the Twenty-seventh just in rear of it; so that the right centre was four deep.--J. W. D.]

Two of the largest companies of the Thirty-third had been left in the Valley. The eight companies present were from Shenandoah, Page, Hampshire and Hardy (five were from Shenandoah, and one each from Page, Hardy and Hampshire); both the latter companies were small, about fifty men, so that deducting the sick and absent, there were only about 400 men in the action. I was then the only regular field officer in the regiment; but there was a Captain Lee, a splendid man and gallant officer, who had been temporarily assigned to the regiment and acted as field lieutenant-colonel; he was, in the charge, struck in the breast with a piece of shell and fell at his post mortally wounded, and died soon afterwards.

THE CHARGE OF THE THIRTY-THIRD WAS VIOLATION OF ORDERS

After giving this brief account of our movements and the position of the brigade previous to our going into action, I will give my recollection, which is quite distinct, of the charge made by the Thirty-third and the reasons which led to its being made before the charge was made by the other regiments of the brigade. This charge by the Thirty-third was made contrary to the order of General Jackson, and I will give you the reason why his order was not strictly obeyed–as you will remember, the eight companies that participated in the charge, whilst made up of an exceedingly fine body of gallant men, were, with probably the exception of one or two companies, composed of undrilled and undisciplined men; in other words, they might almost be termed raw recruits. Whilst the brigade was laying in the edge of the pines the Thirty-third, a little to the left and front of the Henry House, as we were facing, General Jackson rode along in line and directed me to look out for the enemy’s artillery and to wait until the enemy were within thirty paces, and then to fire and charge bayonets. The battle was then raging to our front and right and our forces still being driven back.

About this time, or soon thereafter, some men, dressed in red, presumably Federals, appeared in the bushes on the left flank of the regiment, and some of the men of the left company fired at them, and about the same time some shots from the enemy’s artillery raked through the brush just over the regiment and tore up the ground uncomfortably near the men, and the two things together, coming about the same time, caused considerable confusion in a part of the regiment, and realizing that the most trying position that raw men, and even the best disciplined and bravest could be placed in, was to be required to remain still, doing nothing and receiving the enemy’s fire without returning it, I feared the consequences, if I strictly obeyed General Jackson’s orders; therefore it was that I gave the orders to charge, contrary to his order to wait until the enemy was within thirty paces, the enemy being much further off at that time.

From this you will readily see how it happened that the Thirty-third made the charge before the other regiments made the charge as a brigade. A more gallant charge is rarely made than was then made by the Thirty-third (though in not a very good order). The men moved off with the greatest alacrity, killed and drove off the gunners, shot down their artillery heroes and captured the battery of artillery, but the loss was so great, there being about 43 killed and 140 wounded altogether, we were forced to abandon the captured guns and fall back in the face of a deadly fire and overwhelming numbers, and this was the first check the enemy received up to that time. Very soon thereafter the other regiments of the brigade made a charge and captured another battery. The pieces taken by the Thirty-third were situated considerably to the left (as we were facing) of the Henry House, and the pieces taken by the other regiments of the brigade were somewhat in the same line, but nearer the Henry House (the Robinson House being still further to the right). One of the men of the Thirty-third cut a bridle bit from a bridle of one of the artillery horses and gave me afterwards, which I have used ever since and have now. I am inclined to think, from what I have since learned that the battery or pieces taken by the Thirty-third was Griffin’s, and that the one or pieces taken by the other regiments of the brigade was Rickett’s or probably, if there was but one battery in front of the brigade it was placed in two sections, the one on the left taken by the Thirty-third, and the other, in the same line, but nearer the Henry House, and the one taken but abandoned by the Thirty-third was also retaken by the brigade.

I think, however, it is more probable that both Griffin’s and Rickett’s were in position near and to the left of the Henry House. With batteries or sections of batteries at two different points near and to the left of the Henry House, will readily account for the Thirty-third taking one and the other regiments taking the other, and also retaking the one captured by the Thirty-third.

RETAKING OF THE ARTILLERY BY THE BRIGADE

There are two things, however, about which there can be no doubt–one that the Thirty-third, being at the time on the extreme left of our army, charged alone and took the enemy’s battery or section thereof on our left, and that the rest of the brigade immediately charged and took a battery or section of one nearest the Henry House, and as I now recollect, if not mistaken, retook the one previously taken by the Thirty-third, numbers of the Thirty-third falling in with other regiments as individuals, and not as a regiment, and also that I ordered the charge by the Thirty-third before the time arrived to execute General Jackson’s order for the reason before given. Every regiment gallantly did its whole duty, the other regiments likely doing more fighting than the Thirty-third, owing to the heavy loss sustained by it in making the first charge alone and the disorganization that followed.

I had frequent talks with the officers of the brigade after the fight and never knew of any difference of opinion as to the action of the different regiments of the brigade, and see no occasion for any now. In a fight, of course, every one sees more clearly what takes place in his immediate presence, and no doubt, many things were seen by others of which I have no personal knowledge. I have evidence in my possession from others of the Thirty-third which more than sustain my account of the action of the Thirty-third. From having been somewhat unwell, my hand is a little tremulous, but I hope you may be able to wade through this badly written letter, and if you tire before you reach the end, you can stop and take it in broken doses. I should have written you a clean and better account of the part performed by the Thirty-third and the rest of the brigade at the first battle of Manassas, but you must be satisfied at present with this. I should regret very much for any controversy to arise as to the part performed by any regiment of the brigade that was immortalized on the eventful 21st of July, 1861, when all behaved so gallantly and are entitled to the consolation of knowing that their full duty was well performed. But as you are an editor, though I may be over-cautious, I will ask, as there is no necessity of it, you will not make public my letter. The whole brigade measured up to its full standard of duty, made its reputation and there let it rest. Ever since the close of the war I have had a great longing to visit the Valley of Virginia, but the time never seemed opportune, but I still cherish, perhaps, the vain hope of doing so. As age advances, my heart instinctively turns to old friends and old things, many of whom (that is, friends) I fancy, I would meet in the Valley. I shall be pleased to hear from you any time when you are at leisure, and in the meantime, I remain,

ARTHUR C. CUMMINGS

Abingdon, May 16, 1898





SHSP – “First Manassas”, Close of Battle, Cavalry Pursuit

23 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXIII, Richmond, Va., January-December 1895, pp.259-266

First Manassas

The Closing Scenes of the Battle–Cavalry Pursuit

[Because of graphic details embodied, this article and the reply thereto are given.--ED.]

To the Editor of the Dispatch:

The subjoined letter, which I request you to publish in your widespread and metropolitan journal, is from the pen of Captain William Fitzhugh Randolph, of Greenville, Miss. Captain Randolph, himself a gallant Confederate officer, is brother to Bishop Randolph, of Virginia, and of the military stock of the distinguished Captain Buckner Magill Randolph, of the Confederate infantry, as well as kinsman to the courageous and accomplished Colonel Robert Randolph, of the cavalry corps attached to the Army of Northern Virginia.

Yours,

JOHN SCOTT, of Fauquier,

Colonel of Cavalry, Confederate States Army

Warrenton, Va.

GREENVILLE, August, 1895

Colonel John Scott:

MY DEAR COLONEL,–I hope you will excuse the delay which has occurred in my answer to your letter, received some weeks ago, which has been occasioned, first, by my absence from home, and then by a spell of fever, from which I have only recovered in the past few days.

The extract which you give from Colonel Munford’s report (see for the report itself, page 534, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. II) is so entirely inaccurate and at variance with all my own experience, that I think it better to supplement your own narrative by giving a brief account of my observation of some of the incidents of that memorable day. I did not at that time, as, perhaps, you are aware, belong to any organized command, but had been, in company with a few choice companies, scouting in front of our army, and on the day of the first battle of Manassas acted as a sort of free lance, taking in the battle from the various standpoints, which gave the best promise of interest and incident. It is well understood now that we were on that day outgeneraled at every point. The Federal commander, by a sham attack on the 18th, had masked his real design, while he marched the bulk of his army around by Sudley Mill, and thus precipitated a superior force upon the unprotected left flank and rear of the Confederates, turning our entire position, and rendering absolutely useless all the defences which had been erected at Manassas, the day being only saved by the indomitable courage of a few Confederate brigades, who fought with a persevering tenacity which has been rarely equalled and never excelled, on any of the great battlefields of the world. Our army numbered nearly 30,000, and less than 10,000 of number, through that long and terrible day, bore the whole brunt of the Federal onset. Step by step, contesting every inch of ground with desperate courage, our line was slowly but steadily driven back by the sheer weight of the Federal advance, outnumbered, as they were, almost ten to one.

HEINTZELMAN’S REPORT

Heintzelman, who commanded a division of the Federal army, stated in his report to the department at Washington, with grim satire, that their defeat was not the result of masked batteries or overwhelming numbers, but because regiments repulsed brigades, and brigades drove back divisions. But, notwithstanding this fact, the Confederate line was gradually forced back up the long slope leading to the Henry House. When reinforced by a few regiments of fresh troops, which had been hurried up from Manassas, the thin Confederate line closed up for a last stand on the apex of the ridge which overlooked the stone bridge and the whole ground over which the enemy had been advancing. I stood close behind, looking at the long, solid ranks of the enemy as they were massing for a final assault, for, as I glanced along our line, it seemed almost certain that those worn and tired soldiers who had fought through the long, hot day, their ranks depleted to one half of their original strength, would surely be overwhelmed at last by the impact of numbers. Bee and Bartow had fallen. Of the Fourth Alabama, which had entered the fight 850 strong, more than 400 had gone down on the bloody field, and all that were engaged had suffered in the same proportion, but with ranks unbroken, resolute, and dauntless still, Johnston and Beauregard both were urging and encouraging the troops, and fully exposed to the whole Federal fire, the minie-balls coming thick and fast. Jackson stood near his brigade, with cap drawn close over his eyes, stern and silent, awaiting the catastrophe, and rendered rather more conspicuous by a white handkerchief wound around his left hand, which had been slightly wounded by a bullet.

SUCH THE SITUATION

Such was the situation when looking to our left. On the right flank of the Federal advance, and a little in its rear, we saw the gleam of bayonets on the crest of the hills. It was but a single brigade–3,000 strong–led by Kirby Smith, who, hearing the steady firing from the cars at Gainsville, had come across the country straight for the battle field. As the brigade poured over the crest of the hill the pace was quickened to a double-quick, rushing down on the enemy’s flank, firing and shouting as they came. The Federal line halted, then wavered, wheeling a little to the right, as if to meet this fresh enemy, but their hearts seemed to fail them before that onward rush, and the right of the line began to crumble like a rope of sand. Then it was that I saw Jackson raise his wounded hand and point down to that wavering line. Those worn and tired soldiers needed no second bidding. They knew their time had come at last, and, apparently as fresh as when the battle opened in the morning, those young volunteers leaped like bloodhounds down the hill, and closed with the foe.

The end had come, and the battle was won–a victory as amazing as it was unexpected. A moment before the advance the solid blue lines seemed irresistible; now, in the wildest panic, the whole field covered with a host of disorganized fugitives, flying as if all the devils of the lower regions were behind them. I was on many a hard-fought field afterwards, but never saw I a scene like that. Musket, knapsack–everything in fine that impedes flight–was thrown away, and the disorganized, panic-stricken masses poured like an avalanche across the turnpike, over the stone bridge, into the woods and fields beyond.

THE PRESIDENT

At this juncture I was standing not far from the Henry House. Generals Johnston and Beauregard were with President Davis, who, hearing that the Confederate army was retreating, had come in a special car from Richmond, and had just ridden upon the field. Captain Davis, at the head of the Albemarle Troop of cavalry, rode up the hill, and was immediately ordered in pursuit. As the troop was passing near me, Archie Smith, of Winchester, a member of the company, and a near relative, called to me to join them, which I was very glad to do. We passed close to Mr. Davis, with the two Generals, who raised their caps to us, and giving them a rousing cheer, we rode on. At first our progress was slow; as we came up with the two regiments of South Carolinians (Kershaw’s Brigade), who, together with Kemper’s Battery, had been ordered to follow the enemy. We crossed the Stone bridge on the Warrenton pike about a half mile beyond the hill. At this point the two regiments of infantry halted on the left of the road, and the Albemarle company formed on their right. Kemper’s Battery then unlimbered, the guns were run out to the front, and commenced firing down the pike at what appeared to be a receding cloud of dust. The firing was kept up about fifteen minutes, until all signs of the fugitives had disappeared, resistance on their part having entirely ceased.

NO ORDERS

No orders being received to continue the pursuit, the Carolinians remained where they had halted. Captain Scott, whom I then saw for the first time, rode out into the road, and called for volunteers to continue the pursuit. Captain Davis responded that his troop was ready. The gallant captain did not wait a moment, but dashed on, followed by Captain Davis’s sixty men. Captain Scott, rendered conspicuous by a white havelock, rode considerably in advance. Finding no obstruction to our advance, our pace was greatly accelerated. Occasionally a few of the troopers would drop out of ranks, gather up some of the flying enemy, and start for the rear; but for the most part very little notice was taken of these fugitives, as they scattered right and left, we riding through and over them, looking for better game.

About sunset we descried in the distance a cloud of dust, evidently made by a part of the flying enemy. We spurred our horses to a furious gallop, and dashed down upon them. We soon found what they were–some ten guns, I believe, encircling the black thirty-two pounder, called “Long Tom,” which was to play such havoc with the Confederate ranks! The cannoneers and drivers made a desperate dash with their guns at Cub Run bridge, which was immediately in their front. But, crowding too rapidly on the bridge, it broke under the weight, and baggage-wagon, ambulance, caisson, and all fell through into the stream below, forming an impassable barrier, which blocked they way, and effectually prevented further passage. The cannoneers and drivers leaped from their guns and horses, and darted into the bushes on either side of the run, leaving everything an easy capture.

A TEMPTATION

The temptation was too great for the average cavalryman, and Captain Davis himself, with most of his men, dismounted and commenced work on the tangled wreck. I myself was about to dismount, having an eye on a fine McClelland saddle which I wanted to secure, when Archie Smith, who was still at my side, turned to me and said: “Yonder goes the ‘White Havelock,’ Will!” “All right,” I replied, and we dashed after Captain Scott, who was crossing the stream above the wreck and debris, waving to the men to follow him. About fifteen of Davis’s men followed us, but most of them remained behind to work with the guns and secure horses, saddles, and other plunder. We joined Captain Scott on the other side of the run, and continued our wild ride faster than ever. We soon came to the foot of the hill upon which the little town of Centreville is situated. Crossing a small stream at the base, we rode rapidly up the slope, and on the crown of the hill came in immediate contact with a long, blue line of Federal infantry, drawn up in battle array. Riding up close to them, Captain Scott shouted, “Surrender!” For a few seconds they seemed to hesitate, but, hearing no sound of any advancing along the turnpike in our rear, an officer turned to his men and ordered them to fire. Our little band retreated at once, and dashed down the hill rather faster than we had come up, receiving as we went the whole fire of perhaps three hundred infantry. Not a man, however, was hurt, and we were soon out of sight, hidden by the shades of night.

A WHOLE BRIGADE

I ascertained afterwards that the troops we encountered on the heights of Centreville were a brigade, under Colonel Miles, which had never been in the fight, but had been left to cover the retreat of the Federal army.

With reference to the capture of the artillery and spoil at Cub Run bridge, the assertion that any command, except the Albemarle Troop, led by Captain Scott, had anything to do with it is without foundation. No other cavalry was in sight or hearing at the time, and had it not been for the headlong, furious charge of these sixty men, all these guns, undoubtedly, would have crossed the bridge in safety and been on their way to Washington long before any other command had reached the scene. To Captain Scott, therefore, and to him alone, the sole credit of the capture is due. The only part in the affair performed by Colonel Munford and his command was in manual labor, required in hauling the cannon out of the wreck, securing the horses, etc. Had the other cavalry leaders exhibited the same energy, daring, and enterprise which characterized Captain Scott, it is not at all improbable that the cavalry arm of the service alone might have ridden to Washington that night. But satisfied with what had been done, the army remained quiescent. * * *

W. F. R.

REPLY OF GENERAL MUNFORD

LYNCHBURG, VA., December 22, 1895

To the Editor of the Dispatch:

Your last Sunday’s [December 15] paper contained a brief communication from Colonel John Scott, of Fauquier, enclosing a long letter to the latter from “W. F. R.,” dated “Greenville, August, 1895.” This letter of W. F. R. seems to be in reply to one from Colonel Scott, soliciting W. F. R.’s opinion of my official report of the participation of my command at the First Battle of Manassas.

A reference to my report at page 534, of Series I, Volume II, of “The War of the Rebellion, Official Records,” will show that I therein state that “I advanced and found that Major Scott, commanding Captain Davis’s Company, had proceeded to the bridge on Cub creek.” There was no more gallant soldier or officer than Colonel Scott; and I neither there nor anywhere else during the war found any occasion to criticise him. But, as touching the contention raised by W. F. R., that no command, except the Albemarle Troop, led by Captain Scott, had anything to do with the capture of the artillery and spoil at Cub Run bridge, I am enabled to avoid the necessity, at all times unpleasant, of a laudatory mention of my own deeds, by introducing the following disinterested witnesses–namely, Colonel R. C. W. Radford, of the Thirtieth Virginia Cavalry, who on that day commanded the First Brigade, and Colonel John B. Kershaw, commanding the Second Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers. Colonel Radford’s report will be found on page 532 of the same volume of “The War of the Rebellion, Official Records,” to which I above referred. In that report he says:

“I have no hesitation in saying that the charge made by my own command, in connection with that made by the command under Lieutenant-Colonel Munford, composed of Captains W. H. Payne, Ball, Langhorne, and Hale, caused the jam at Cub creek bridge, which resulted in the capture of fourteen pieces of cannon, their ammunition and wagons, five forges, thirty wagons, and ambulances, and some forty or fifty horses. I base this opinion on the fact that we were in advance of all our forces, and by our charge the enemy were thrown into wild confusion before us, their vehicles of all sorts going off at full speed, and in the greatest disorder.”

Colonel Kershaw, in his report, at pages 522-524 of the same volume, says:

“Arrived at the house on the hill, which was occupied by the enemy as a hospital, having made many prisoners by the way, we found that a portion of our cavalry (Captains Wickham’s and Radford’s, and Powell’s and Pitzer’s), had had an engagement there with a battery of the enemy, which they had taken, but had retired after being fired on by the heavy reserve corps, which intervened between them and my command. This cavalry had come into the road by Lewis’ Ford, below the stone bridge, and neither of us knew of the position of the other until some time after.” * * *

“Reluctantly, I ordered my command to return; but, directing Colonel Cash to remain, I went with a detachment of twenty volunteers from his regiment to the bridge, where I found Lieutenant-Colonel Munford, with a portion of the Virginia cavalry, extricatingthe valuable capture. They had arrived by the Sudley Ford road, having pursued the enemy from the battle-field, and came up to the bridge, when Captain Kemper ceased firing.  Here I remained until 10 o’clock at night, aiding Colonel Munford, when I returned to camp.”

I have ever deemed it an unseemly spectacle for the Southern survivors of the Confederate war to indulge in crimination and recrimination of one another, and shall content myself with the above response to the criticism of “Free Lance.”

Respectfully,

THOMAS T. MUNFORD





SHSP – First Battle of Manassas and the Stonewall Brigade

21 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XIX. Richmond, Va. 1891, pp.82-92

History of the First Battle of Manassas and the Organization of the Stonewall Brigade

[From the Winchester, Va., Times, January 14, 1891]

HOW IT WAS SO NAMED

BY D. B. CONRAD, KANSAS CITY, MO., FORMERLY U. S. AND C.S. NAVY

He was as exact in the performance of his duties as a mathematical proposition; his only pleasure, walking daily at the same hour for his health; strict, grim and reticent, he imagined that the halves of his body did not work and act in accord. He followed hydropathy for dyspepsia, and after a pack in wet sheets every Sunday morning he then attended the Presbyterian church, leading the choir, and the prayer-meetings every night during the week. He ate the queerest food, and he sucked lemons constantly; but where he got them during the war, for we were many miles from a lemon, no one could find out–but he always had one. In fact, no one knew or understood him. No man ever saw him smile–but one woman, his wife. But he stood very high in the estimation of all for his rigid moral conduct and the absolute faith reposed in his word and deeds. Soon it was observed that every night there was singing and praying under “that tree,” and every Sunday morning and evening he held prayer-meetings, which, I regret to say, were attended by only a few–always strictly, however, by his staff, who seemed to have been chosen or elected because they were of his way of life. When thrown with him on duty he was uniformly courteous to all. He always kept his eyes half closed as if thinking, which he invariably did before answering; but his replies were short and to the point. Not many days elapsed before the officers found out that when he gave or wrote one of his short orders, it was always to be obeyed, or suspension at once followed neglect. In May many regiments arrived from Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, and there was some semblance of discipline–as an immense log guard-house, always filled, gave evidence.

One Sunday evening in early June the long roll was beaten, and we soon were in line, marching out between the high hills towards Shepherdstown bridge on the upper Potomac, accompanied by a long procession of carriages filled with our mothers and sisters, escorted by our middle-aged, portly fathers on horseback; for as we could not go to them, they daily visited us in our camp; and that evening, for the first time in our lives, it looked and felt like war. For were we not on our way to keep the Yankees out of Virginia? Were they not in force somewhere in Maryland, intending to cross over the bridge which we were marching to, to defend and burn? This was the feeling and belief of all of us; and as in the narrow country road winding around the many high hills our long line of bright bayonets glinted in the setting sun, our five full regiments, numbering nearly four thousand five hundred of the brightest, healthiest, and the most joyous of Virginia youth, stepping out quickly to the shrill music of the drum and fife, with its accompanying procession of vehicles carrying weeping mothers and sisters, it was my first and most vivid sight of what war might be. As darkness fell apace, all were left behind but the soldiers. It was our first night-march, and by two o’clock we were “dead beat!” Many fell asleep by the roadside, and were only aroused by the rattling of muskets, as the foremost regiment fired a volley without orders, and swept across the bridge, only to be sternly ordered back by “Old Jack, the sleepless,” who reprimanded its colonel and then personally superintended the firing of the wooden structure. During the next week we marched over several counties, and by the time we reached Winchester, where General J. E. Johnston had established his headquarters, we were in perfect trim, and knew each other well and felt like soldiers.

In Winchester we were regaled day and night with the speeches of ‘Fire-eaters,” “Original Secessionists,” Et id genus omne! I only recall the following: I saw a crowd listening eagerly with arrested attention to an orator. He was both corpulent and crapulent, who had just come from Washington, which was his present glory and distinction. He announced that he would redden the Potomac with the blood of every Yankee who crossed to invade the sacred soil of the South. One Southern man with a bowie knife was equal to any two Yankees, and that the war would be over after the first fight, when they would be driven out and away forever. Another orator drew a large audience; his chief distinction and glory seemed to be that he was and had been a “Nullifier” (whatever that was). An original “Secessionist;” had a brother fighting in Italy with Garibaldi, whom he announced was expected daily — the looked-for “Military Messiah;” and finally that he was a South Carolinian and came here to assist in fighting Virginia’s battles. Then there were groans and derision from the assembled Virginians.

For a week ending July 2d, we were encamped near Martinsburg, some four miles from the ford of the Potomac leading to Hagerstown, called Falling Waters, watching the Federal army under General Patterson. At sunrise the alarm was given: “the enemy are crossing!” and we were under arms on our way to the ford. Emerging on the turnpike, we were halted to support a battery; skirmishers were thrown out, and soon we were all engaged. We tried hard to hold Patterson until General Johnston could come up from Winchester, but were forced back, and here we saw Colonel Jackson under fire for the first time; stolid, imperturbable, undisturbed, as he was watched by every eye; and his example was quieting and of decided moral effect. There, for the first time, we saw the long line of blue, with the United States flag in the center, and both sides exchanged shots; the first of the many fights in the old Valley of Virginia. We fell back through Martinsburg; it was occupied by General Patterson; and at a small hamlet called” Bunker Hill,” some seven miles away, we, during the whole of July 4th, were in line of battle, expecting Patterson hourly. The next evening we fell back upon Winchester, and after our arrival there happened an episode which I will relate briefly, as it was the first and only attempt at a mutiny ever heard of in the Confederate army.

About 3 o’clock on the afternoon of July 17th the long roll was beaten and we were marched to an adjoining field, crushing under our feet as we moved along the stone fences bounding it. There we found our five regiments surrounding a number of tents, and when the hollow square was perfect we became aware that we enclosed a battalion of troops who had refused positively to further obey their commander. General Joe Johnston’s adjutant, Colonel Whiting, with Colonel Jackson and the colonel of the refractory troops, rode up into the square. The drums were ordered to beat the assembly, and, to our infinite relief, the battalion, under the command of its several captains, fell into line at once. Then there was a dead silence. This was a mutiny! What came next? How was it to be punished? Was every tenth man to be shot, or only the officers? As I rode along I heard these questions asked by both rank and file. Colonel Whiting then rode to the front with a paper in his hand, and when he arrived at the head of the troops he read aloud, with marked emphasis, in substance as follows: That General Johnston had heard with regret and surprise that, on the eve of an action, both men and officers had refused to obey the orders of their commander. He could only say that it was the imperative duty of all soldiers to obey orders; that their grievances would be redressed in time, but such an example would and should not go unpunished. He therefore expected of them instant obedience of their colonel’s orders; that Colonel Jackson, with five regiments, was there to enforce, if needed, his commands. Their own colonel then put them through their evolutions for so many minutes, and they were ordered back to their tents, and all was quiet. It seems hardly necessary to state that those were the last orders ever given by that colonel, as he was removed from command.

All of General Johnston’s army were then encamped around Winchester, when, on the 18th of July, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, again the long roll was sounded. From the number of mounted officers and men galloping furiously off to every encampment, it was evident that there was important news. General Patterson was known to be at Charlestown, twenty miles to the east, but nearer to the passes of the Blue Ridge than we were. General Beauregard was known to be at Manassas station, far to the east, eighty miles by direct line, with the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah river running between him and us. Soon the news came–it was not an order, but simply a message from General Johnston to each brigade, regiment and individual soldier, that General Beauregard had just notified him from Manassas, on that morning at daybreak, he had been attacked by an overwhelming force of the enemy from Centerville. He was holding his own, but needed help. General Johnston had started, and would go day and night to his relief; and he expected every man who wanted to fight the enemy would up and follow. There is no man living of all that army to-day who can ever forget the thrill of “Berserker rage” which took possession of us all when the news was understood, and General Johnston’s inspiring message was repeated along the line. We were to help General Beauregard drive the enemy back; then, returning to the Valley, would hurl General Patterson across the Potomac and end the war.  For had not Secretary Seward proclaimed that in sixty days it would be over?  Every man sprang to his place, and in an incredibly short time we were rapidly moving through the dusty streets of old Winchester, there only to be the more inspired and encouraged, for there was not a mother or sister there who had not in the ranks a son or a brother, and who through tears and wails at being left undefended and alone, yet told us it was our duty to go. Our Virginia brigade took the lead and to the eastward, making for Ashby’s Gap. We footed it fast and furious; it was at first like a run, but soon slackened to the “route step,” and now we wondered at the old soldier’s puzzle: “Why, when the leading files of a mile of soldiers were only in a walk, that the rear files are always on a run?” As we passed through the rich and fertile Clarke County, the road was lined with ladies holding all manner of food and drink, for General Johnston’s staff had passed in a sweeping gallop and given tidings of our coming. At sundown we came to the cold, swift Shenandoah, and with two and three to every horse, the rest stripped off trousers, crossed, holding aloft on muskets and head, clothing and ammunition. This was the severest test, for it was a long struggle against a cold, breast-high current, and the whole night and the next day witnessed this fording of men, guns and horses. I did not see my mare for two days; nearly a dozen cousins and brothers or other relatives had to use her in the crossing. Luckily the road beyond was hard, dry and plain in the dark night as we slowly climbed the Blue Ridge, which rises precipitously from the river, and in a straggling line passed by the “Big Poplar Tree” that crowns the summit and is the corner of four counties, Clarke, Warren, Fauquier and Loudoun. Coming down the mountain by the hamlet of Paris, and there leaving the pike, we took the country road, soft and damp, to the railroad station of Piedmont, where, sleeping on the ground, we awaited the arrival of the train to carry us to Manassas Junction. At sunrise it came; a long train of freight and cattle cars, in which we packed ourselves like so many pins and needles; and, as safety for engine and cars was more essential than speed, for we had one engine only on that part of the old Manassas Gap railroad, we slowly jolted the entire day, passed the many country stations, warmly welcomed by the gathered crowds of women and girls with food and drink.

And when at sunset we arrived at Manassas Junction, sprung at once into line, and swept out into a broken country of pine forest. Four miles brought us to the banks of “Bull Run,” where we slept. That was Friday night, the 19th, and it had taken twenty-four hours to bring four thousand men to the expected field of action. Bright and early on Saturday, the 20th, we were up and examined with a soldier’s interest the scene of the conflict of the 18th. A line of fresh graves was rather depressing; the trees were lopped and mangled by shot and perforated by minnie balls. The short, dry grass showing in very many spots a dark chocolate hue, spreading irregularly like a map, which the next day became a too familiar sight. We could not make anything out of the fight, beyond that here was the ford, and here they came down to cross in force. They were simply repulsed from the ford; there was no pursuit, the artillery remaining on the hills beyond; and it was agreed that here, any day now, we were to fight against a direct assault. The enemy’s object, we supposed, was to get to Manassas Junction, murder every one there, and destroy buildings and stores.

The art of war was so simple and so well understood by all in those early days, that the opinions of high-up college graduates and successful lawyers were even sought for, and in all cases, I must do them justice to say, were given with the utmost freedom and liberality. Every man who had been in the Mexican war, or had been fighting abroad, was a colonel or a brigadier at once, and they swelled and swaggered around, dispensing willing information of tactics and grand strategy in the most profuse and generous way to an absorbent and listening crowd. The whole of Saturday, the 20th, did we lie in the pines, resting and surmising, greeting each new regiment as it arrived at all hours of the day and night, panting for the fight. Questions asked were: “Had the fighting begun yet?” Are we too late?” “When was it to be? Let us get a good place where we can kill every d—d Yankee, and then go home.” Not a sound or shot disturbed the quiet of long Saturday, and we slept peacefully in the pines that night. As the next day (Sunday, the 21st) broke we were jumped out of our lairs by the loudest gun I ever heard, apparently fired right at our heads, as we supposed, and from just over the bank of Bull Run, only a hundred yards distant; but it proved to be the signal gun from Centerville, four miles away, in the encampment of General McDowell. At a double quick we were in line along the bank of the stream, momentarily expecting the enemy to appear and open on us, and thus we awaited until the sun got over the tops of the trees, when a mounted officer rode up, and after a hurried interview with Colonel Jackson, we were, to our surprise, wheeled to the rear, and at double-quick, over fields and through the woods, we went to the extreme left of our army.

It then turned out that at that day and hour General McDowell had decided to attack us on our left; and as General Beauregard had decided to attack the Federals on their left, so, had it not been discovered in time by the Confederates, each army would have followed thereto in concentric circles. For two long, hot hours did we move towards the rattling of musketry, which at first was very faint, then became more and more audible. At last we halted under a long ridge covered with small pines. Here were the wounded of that corps who had been first engaged–men limping on gun or stick; men carried off in blankets, bleeding their life away; men supported on each side by soldiers–and they gave us no very encouraging news to troops as we were. They had been at it ever since sun-up. The enemy were as thick as wheat in the field, and the long lines of blue could not be counted. Up the narrow lane our brigade started, directly to where the musketry seemed the loudest, our regiment, the Second, bringing up the rear. Reaching the top, a wide clearing was discovered; a broad table land spread out, the pine thicket ceased, and far away over the hill in front was the smoke of musketry; at the bottom of the long declivity was the famous turnpike, and on the hills beyond could be seen clearly Griffin’s and Rickett’s batteries. In their front, to their rear, and supported on each side, were long lines of blue. To our right, about one hundred yards off, was a small building, the celebrated “Henry House.” As ours was the last regiment to come up, and as the brigade, as it surmounted the hill, wheeled into line sharply to the left into the thickets, we were thus thrown to the extreme right of the line and of the entire army. Halting there and mounted on a gate-post, I could see the panoramas spread out before me. The brass pieces of Griffin’s and Rickett’s batteries were seen wheeling into line, caissons to the rear, the horses detached and disappearing behind the hill. The glinting of the morning sun on the burnished metal made them very conspicuous. No cavalry were seen. I do not think that McDowell had any in action that day. Both batteries soon opened on us with shell, but no casualties resulted, for the reason that in their haste and want of time the fuses were not cut. I picked up many which fell to the ground with a dull sound, and found that the reason they did not explode. The infantry were engaged on the side of the long, gradual slope of the hill on which we stood, and in the bottom below, out of our sight, we could hear the sound and see the white smoke.

At this time there rode up fast towards us from the front a horse and rider, gradually rising to our view from the bottom of the hill. He was an officer all alone, and as he came closer, erect and full of fire, his jet-black eyes and long hair, and his blue uniform of a general officer made him the cynosure of all. In a strong, decided tone he inquired of the nearest aide, what troops we were and who commanded. He was told that Colonel Jackson, with five Virginia regiments had just arrived, and pointed to where the colonel stood at the same time. The strange officer then advanced, and we of the regimental staff crowded to where he was to hear the news from the front. He announced himself as General B. E. Bee, commanding South Carolina troops; he said that he had been heavily engaged all the morning, and being overpowered, are now slowly being pushed back; we will fall back on you as a support: the enemy will make their appearance in a short time over the crest of that hill. “Then sir, we will give them the bayonet,” was the only reply of Colonel Jackson. With a salute, General Bee wheeled his horse and disappeared down the hill, where he immortalized himself, Colonel Jackson and his troops, by his memorable words to his own command: “Close up, men, and stand your ground. Colonel Jackson with five regiments of Virginia troops is standing behind us like a stone wall, and will support you.” Thus was the name of “Stonewall” given to General Jackson and his famous brigade. General Bee was killed the next moment. Our entire line lay in the pine thickets for one long hour, and no man, unless he was there, can tell how very long it was to us. Under fire from two batteries throwing time-shells only, they did not do a great amount of killing, but it was terribly demoralizing. Then there was a welcome cessation; and we were wondering why, and when the fighting would begin for us. After nearly half an hour the roar of the field pieces sounded louder than I had yet heard, and evidently very near us; this was the much criticised movement of Ricketts, who had ordered his battery down the opposite hill, across the pike and up the hill we were on, where, wheeling into battery on the level top, opened with grape and canister right into the thicket and into our exposed line. This was more than Colonel Jackson could stand, and the general order was–” Charge and take that battery!” Now the fight of Manassas, or Bull Run, began in earnest–for the position we held was the key of the field. Three times did our regiment charge up to and take this battery, but never held it; for though we drove the regiment supporting it, yet another was always close behind to take its place. A gray-headed man, sitting sideways on horseback, whom I understood to be General Heintzleman, was ever in one spot directing the movements of each regiment as it came up the hill; and his coolness and gallantry won our admiration. Many fragments of these regiments charged on us in turn as we retreated into the pines, only to be killed, for I do not think any of them went back alive. The green pines were filled with the Seventy-ninth Highlanders and the red-breeched Brooklyn Zouaves, but the only men who were killed twenty or thirty yards behind, and in the rear of our line, were the United States Marines. Many of these I had sailed with, and they called on me by name to help them as they lay wounded in the undergrowth. “Water, water!” “Turn me over!” “Raise my head, and remove me out of this fire!” were their cries. I then saw what was afterwards too often the case–men with wounded legs, unable to move out of the fire, mortally wounded while lying helpless Our entire brigade thus fought unaided and alone for at least an hour–charging, capturing, retreating, and retaking this battery, resisting the charges of each fresh regiment as it came forward at quick-step up the slope of the hill, across the table-land, on its top and into the pine thickets where we were, until we were as completely broken up into fragments and as hard pressed as men ever were. It had gotten down to mere hand-to-hand fighting of small squads, out in the open and in the pines. There was no relief, no reinforcements, no fresh troops to come, or to fall back on. Luckily the enemy were in the same disorganized condition as we were. General Johnston seized the colors of a regiment, and on horseback, led a charge, excusing it afterwards as necessary at that moment to make a personal example. Our Colonel Jackson, with only two aids, Colonels Jones and Marshall, both subsequently killed, rode slowly, and without the slightest hurrah, frequently along our front, encouraging us by his quiet presence. He held aloft his left or bridle hand, looking as if he was invoking a blessing, as many supposed, but in fact to ease the intense pain, for a bullet had badly shattered two of his fingers, to which he never alluded, and it has been forgotten, for it was the only time he was ever wounded, until his fall in action in 1863. Thus the fate of the field hung in a balance at 2:30 P. M. At this moment President Davis and his staff made their appearance on the field, but not being known, attracted no attention. Both sides were exhausted and willing to say “enough!” The critical moment, which comes in all actions, had arrived, when we saw to our left a cloud of dust, and out of it emerged a straggling line of men with guns held at a trail. Slowly they came on to the field, not from want of spirit, but tired out from double-quicking in the heat and dust.  As they passed by and through our squads there were hurried inquiries; the enemy was pointed out to them, and when seen, from out of their dusty and parched throats, came the first “Rebel yell.” It was a fierce, wild cry, perfectly involuntary, caused by the emotion of catching first sight of the enemy. These new troops were Kirby Smith’s delayed men; the train had that morning broken down, but on arriving at the station near and hearing the sound of fighting, he had ordered the train stopped, and forming into line and rapidly marching, guided only by the roar of the guns, had arrived on the field at the supreme moment. The yell attracted the attention of the enemy, surprised and startled them. Inspired by the sight of the Federals the new Confederate troops, in one long line, with a volley and another yell, swept down the slope of our hill and drove before them the broken, tired enemy, who had been at it since sunrise. Kirby Smith was shot from his horse, but onward they went, irresistible, for there was no opposition. The enemy stood for a few moments, firing, then turned their backs for the first time. As if by magic the whole appearance of the scene was changed. One side was cheering and pursuing in broken, irregular lines; the other a slow-moving mass of blue backs and legs, guns, caissons and ammunition wagons, started down the hard, white pike. Our batteries, with renewed vigor and dash, had again come to the front, and from their high positions were opening with shot and grape. One solitary bridge was the point to which the fleeing Federals converged, and on that point was our fire concentrated. The result was at one seen–a wheel or two knocked off their caissons or wagons blocked the passage, and the bridge became impassable. The men cut loose their horses, mounted and rode away; others plunged into the mud and water, and the retreat became from that moment a panic, for the god Pan had struck them hard for the first and last time. There was never again the like to be seen in the subsequent four years. Our pursuit, singularly, was by artillery, our infantry having become incapable of further motion from sheer exhaustion; and Stewart had only a few companies out of the one regiment on the field; but they did good work in keeping up the rout until late in the night, when they were brought to a standstill at Centerville, where there was a reserve brigade that had not been in action; and so ended the part taken by the Stonewall Brigade in this their first fight. I may add here that our regiment was not gathered together for four days, and the brigade not for a week. With us, as with the rest of our victorious army, we were as much disorganized and scattered by our victory as the Federals by their defeat, and pursuit, unless by an organized force beyond Centerville, would have been simply a physical impossibility.





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





Notes on Co. K, 10th VA Memoir

1 04 2009

Notes on Co.K, 10 VA in the Campaign, from contributor Robert Moore:

Casualties of Co. K, (“Page Volunteers”) at First Manassas

Killed:

John Ambrose Comer

James H. Gaines [the soldier who did the rooster imitation]

John W. Kite [“his dying words were ‘Boys, I am gone, go ahead, save the country!’”]

Wounded:

Lt. Daniel T. Fagan

Cpl. Trenton O. Graves [seriously wounded in the knee while in the act of giving a dying comrade (John W. Kite) a drink of water]

James H. Cubbage [wounded in left thigh, later discharged]

[John W. Kite is a distant – 1st cousin, 6 times removed – relative of mine. Also, the photocopy I have of this account becomes poor at the end, but it appears that the author’s initials are either B.C.B. or R.C.B. If R.C.B., this would be Robert C. Bragonier, a native of Shepherdstown, Va/WV and member of Company C, not Co. K. Nonetheless, he was quite familiar with the men of Co. K and resided in Page a good part of his life after the war and was a member of the Rosser-Gibbons Camp, UCV in Luray. He died in Luray in 1904 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown.]





Co. K, 10th VA in the Campaign

31 03 2009

From contributor Robert H. Moore, II

Page Courier, July 1895

Last Sunday, July 21st, was the thirty-fourth anniversary of the first great battle in the late war when both sides were upon the field in large numbers, and like last Sunday, the first battle of Manassas thirty-four years ago was fought upon the first day of the week.

The writer well remembers the facts leading up to that memorable day, and as a member of the 10th, which had a fine company of soldiers from Page, he recalls the start we made from Winchester on the evening of July 18th, when General Joe Johnston, who had been watching the movements of General Patterson in and about Williamsport, started at dusk on the road to White Post and on to Berry’s Ferry, where his army crossed the Shenandoah, many, if not the most of them, wading through the water. From this point we crossed over the Blue Ridge and on to the Plains on the line of the then M.G.R.R., where the troops were put upon freight trains and taken to Manassas Junction, as it was then so generally known.

Of course this was a slow and protracted movement, but the old 10th got aboard and half of it on the tops of the old box cars, reached Manassas about the middle of that famous 21st – as hot a day as we remember – and hastily scrambling down an off, without further ceremony or waiting began the march on foot to the field of battle seven miles off.

For some hours we had heard the boom and roar of the cannon, and knew we were running into danger, and still no one felt like lagging by the way.

For two hours it was a walk, a run and a few minute’s rest once or twice, and through a broiling sun and suffocating dust that hovered over and about everything, till we reached the field and were into the fight before we well knew what we were doing. A harder and more fatiguing run cannot well be imagined than that from the Junction to the field of battle.

We will not speak of the battle itself, as its main features are known to all, but of what we saw and heard as a member of the 10th Va. – and that was but little, as a soldier’s knowledge of a fight is necessarily a narrow one and must be confined to what he sees at and about him.

The Page boys were there for work, , and for three hours on that hot July day, the most of them had their first and some of them their last experience of war.

We do not remember how many, nor the names of those who were killed, but several were shot down dead and more wounded.

During the hottest of this fight, and whilst in the woods at a fence, one of them who had frequently in the quiet of the camp amused the regiment by his artistic and well-executed imitations of the rooster, thinking the opportunity too good to be lost, perched himself on the top rail, and from his place of vantage and of danger, greeted his Yankee friends with as good a piece of crowing as he ever did in the quiet of camps – a loud, shrill crow of courage and defiance, and from his perch did not quit till a taste of Yankee lead brought him down.

We wish we could recall the name of this Page boy and complete his connection with our sketch, but perhaps others may do so. He was a good soldier, full of life and good cheer, and helped many a merry hour pass on freighted with the effects of his kindly aid.

That evening McDowell and his army, not able longer to withstand the Confederates, left the field in haste and confusion, and before the sun had gone down across the crest of the Blue Ridge the battle was over, and the grim work of strife and of death was over.

The Confederate army, worn out and thoroughly enervated by their three days of fighting and of hurried march rested where they were, and the first great mistake of the war upon the part of the South was complete as sleep closed their tired eyes, and they slept in utter ignorance of what could have been done in a few hours more of work.

There was no pursuit, and the next morning a drenching rain that lasted since midnight put a stop and an end to all.

McDowell with his men in the meantime had reached the Capital and the battle of Manassas was over. Many days passed in the Capital before the disorder of affairs was checked and the bad effects of the rout were gone; but when order was restored it was too late for the South to do what ought have been done on the eve of the 21st.

B.C.B.

See notes here





Col. William Smith’s Memoir of the Battle

13 12 2008

From Memoir of Governor William Smith, of Virginia, His Political, Military, and Personal History, by John W. Bell See also here

I was appointed by Gov. Letcher, Colonel of the Forty-ninth Virginia volunteers, the latter part of June, 1861, upon my individual application. The Governor replied to my application, that I was too old; to which I rejoined, that I would like to see the young man who could stand more hardship and fatigue than I. Well, he said, if you insist upon it, I will not refuse. To which I said, in the words of the bridegroom, who, when asked by the parson if he would take this woman as his wedded wife, “zounds man, that is just what I come for.” The Governor thereupon gave me an order to Gen. R. E. Lee, then Adjutant-General of our State, to prepare my commission. Upon presenting it, General Lee, after glancing over it, looked up with manifest surprise, he, too, doubtless thinking I was too old; and pausing a moment, and without a word, he filled up and handed it to me. I took it to the Governor for his signature. Receiving it, I returned with it to General Lee, that he might make the proper record–who, having done so, returned it to me, with an order to General Beauregard to form my regiment out of companies as they severally reported for duty. In my sixty-fourth year, and wholly unacquainted with drill or tactics, my military prospects were anything but flattering; yet, I thought I knew how to manage men, and flattered myself that I could soon, for all practical purposes, overcome existing difficulties. Besides, I well knew the bitter feeling of hostility against the South cherished by Northern politicians, who would greedily seize upon the opportunity to gratify their hatred and satiate their revenge; and in view of the great inequality of the contest, I felt it to be my duty to set a spirited example and to contribute all in my power to the success of a cause which was dear to my heart, and which I believe, and ever shall believe, to be right. With this explanation, by way of reply, to the many friends who kindly remonstrated against my entering the army, I proceed to carry out the purpose of this article. Having made my personal arrangements, and having fortunately secured unexceptionable field officers, to wit: Lieutenant-Colonel Murray, a graduate, I believe, of West Point, and certainly a splendid drill-master and tactician, and Major Smith, my nephew, a veteran soldier, just about three weeks from the Federal army, having resigned therefrom to enter the Confederate service, I felt that my first great difficulty had been overcome.

And so, with three companies only assigned to my regiment, I found myself regularly enrolled in the Confederate army, only three days before the first battle of Manassas. On the first day, and late in the afternoon, I was ordered to the Sudley mills, where I expected to meet Colonel Hunton, then on the march from Leesburg. On our arrival, finding Colonel Hunton had not arrived, we camped in and around the Sudley church, my quarters being in a house not far from it. It was fully 11 P. M. before my men got their supper and fixed themselves for the night, and I had not been asleep more than an hour when, about 1 A. M., I received an order to get my men under arms and move with them to a point on Bull Run near the Lewis house, and to report to General Cocke; in other words, to return. I promptly gave the necessary orders. On reaching the camp I found the command in a state of confused preparation, and when it was reported as ready to move I walked over the ground and found many of its conveniences about to be abandoned. I at once sternly rebuked the men for their negligence, told them that order and carewere two of the duties of the soldier, and that I would not tolerate the loss of a tin cup if an act of carelessness. The ground being gleaned, the order to march was given, and we reached our position about sunrise. The next day we camped near the Lewis house. As it was understood we were to fight the day thereafter, and my men had but little rest the previous night, I determined they should have a good night’s rest the coming night. Accordingly when the sentinels were posted, they were charged not, under any circumstances, to permit the men to be disturbed. On the morning of the 21st July, 1861, I was ordered to take position on Bull Run, north of the Lewis house; and Captain Harris, an engineer officer of much note, was ordered to accompany and post us. We were placed on the edge of the run, under a bluff, on which a section of Rogers’s battery, under Lieutenant Heaton, was posted, and temporarily attached to my command.

Riding up on the bluff, I found but one gun. Surprised, I asked the Lieutenant where his other was. Pointing to it, near the Lewis house, he said, “there it is, and put there by the order of General Cocke.” Putting spurs to my horse, as I passed the gun, I gave orders for every man to be in the saddle, ready to move on my signal to do so, on my return. Dashing up to General Cocke, who was some two hundred yards west–after saluting him–I said, General, permit me to suggest that the gun I have just passed would be more likely to render effective service along side of its mate on yonder bluff than where it is now; and I beg you will permit me to so order. Receiving his consent, and touching my hat in salute, I moved rapidly in return, giving the expected signal, so that the gun with all its equipments was promptly in motion, and moved with such celerity, that it reached the bluff before I could, with all my dash, overtake it. It was a happy reunion, and under the exhilarating circumstances, gave assurance of a splendid fight, should the exigency require it; but a few shots from our guns and from Latham’s battery near by, on my right, induced the enemy, who had shown himself in the pines on the northern side of the run, to abandon his purpose which, obviously, was to reach, in this direction, our line of inter-communication with Manassas. As far as I can learn, the enemy’s force referred to was under the command of General Schenck. He was easily checked. About this time the peals of musketry, apparently about the Robinson and the Henry houses, was incessant and fascinating. While thus absorbed, and sitting on my horse, surrounded with Colonel Murray, Captain Harris and others on the bluff, near Heaton’s guns, Lieutenant-Colonel Murray called to me, “Look there, Colonel.” Following the direction of his finger, I saw two regiments in line of battle, moving at quick time, apparently from the field of battle. I know not how to account for my conduct, but giving way to the impulse of the moment, I put spurs to my horse, threw myself in their front and brought them to a halt, simply remarking, “Gentlemen, I must inform you that you have taken the wrong direction.”

Returning quickly to my position, for the heavy firing still continued, I had barely done so, when Colonel Murray cried out: “Look, Colonel, those fellows are moving.” Again stopping them I again returned to the bluff, when Colonel Murray for the third time exclaimed. “Colonel, those fellows are off again.” Much exasperated, I put spurs to my horse, soon overtaking them, and galloped around their left flank, drew up in their front, and again brought them to a halt on the road leading from the Lewis house to Ball’s or Lewis’ ford, I am uncertain which. As I did so, I heard some one in the ranks cry out, “who the h-Il is that?” To which I replied in a loud voice, “I am Colonel Smith, of the Forty-ninth Virginia Volunteers.” To which Colonel Fisher promptly replied, “and I am Colonel Fisher, of the Sixth North Carolina, all I ask is to be put in position,” and Colonel Falkner then said, “and I am Colonel Falkner of the Second Mississippi,” but from the distance he was from me, I heard him imperfectly, yet understood him to say that he was ready to obey orders. Then, I said, “dress your men on the line of this road, bring them to a rest, and wait for orders.” These regiments and the gun I had had moved to the bluff, were, it is highly probable, the foundation of General Schenck’s estimate of our force. He had them in full view from the position he occupied in the pines.

Returning rapidly to my position, I there found a general order, that every man not in the face of the enemy should report to General Beauregard near the Robinson house. Promptly putting my little command in motion, I soon crossed a small ravine draining into Bull Run. Ascending the opposite hill, Lieutenant-Colonel Tibbs of Colonel Hunton’s Eighth Virginia Regiment hallooed to me: “I am posted here (near the head of the ravine) with three companies; for God’s sake, let Colonel Hunton, who is at the Lewis house with the balance of the regiment, know your orders.” The hill on which the Lewis house stood is of very considerable size and the northern slope of it drains into the ravine. The whole of this slope, up to the new ground, near the north of the Lewis house, was then covered with an oaken growth of original forest; but it is now, I find upon recent examination (1882), under a fine crop of corn, the house having been burnt by the enemy in the spring of 1862, when he first took possession of it. Ordering Lieutenant-Colonel Murray to take charge of my command, and to move on without delay, saying I would soon rejoin him, I put spurs to my horse, dashed through the woods and nearing Colonel Hunton’s command, hallooed to him that General Beauregard’s order was, “that every man not in the face of the enemy should move into action.” To which he promptly replied: “I am posted here by General Cocke, with express orders not to leave my position without his command.” I rejoined, “You know whom to obey.” Returning rapidly to my command, I had scarcely reached it when a squad of fifteen or twenty men crossed my line of march, in the direction of the Lewis house. I halted them for information, when at the instant a heavy outburst of musketry breaking upon the ear, they resumed their previous rapid movement, like frightened deer, amid the derisive laughter of my whole command. Resuming our march, we had proceeded but a short distance when we encountered a South Carolina company moving in the direction of the stone bridge. Ascertaining it was lost, I said: “Fall in upon my left and I’ll conduct you to the post of duty.” This was promptly done. Moving but a short distance I encountered two Mississippi companies under precisely similar circumstances, to whom I also said: “Fall in on my left and I’ll conduct you where men can show their mettle;” which was done with alacrity. So that when I reported to General Beauregard, some hundred yards from the Robinson house, I had three companies of my own regiment, one South Carolina company and two Mississippi companies–not exceeding in all 450 men. Touching my hat, I said: “General Beauregard, I report for orders.” Pausing for a moment, he replied: “Colonel, what can you do?” This was a hard question to one wholly unacquainted with military duty. I, however, promptly answered, “Put us in position and I’ll show you.” I then added: “General, Colonel Hunton, with a fine regiment, is posted at or near the Lewis house and is burning with impatience to join in the battle,” Promptly acting on the information, he ordered one of his staff to proceed forthwith to Colonel Hunton, and to order him to report with his regiment with all possible dispatch.

At this time General Beauregard was forming his new line of battle, his right in the open field, midway between the Robinson and Henry houses, and in a line parallel therewith, but considerably to the east thereof and running south in a line that soon gave them the shelter of the pines for a quarter of a mile or so. The enemy was heavily flanking our left, and our reinforcements, as they came up, were ordered to form on the left of our line, and so, by extending it, counteract the movement of the enemy. Accordingly, I was ordered to form on the left, by passing the rear of our line until I reached my position. The Washington Artillery, as I was at the time informed, was firing upon the enemy and across my line of march; it was ordered to suspend its fire until I had crossed its range, when General Beauregard placed himself by my side, at the head of my column, and the order to march was given. On reaching our new line of battle, under what influence I know not, I announced General Beauregard to the men, to which they promptly responded with three rousing cheers, and so, as we marched along the rear of our line, I, every fifty or seventy-five steps, announced General Beauregard, to which a similar response was invariably and promptly given. On reaching the left of the line I found it in much disorder. Here, General Beauregard informed me that he must leave me, and repeating his orders left me. He had not gone more than forty steps when a cry from the disordered crowd referred to, demanded to see General Beauregard. Calling to the General to return, as the men say they must see you, I announced him to them, to which, responding with three hearty cheers, they promptly formed in line. This I understood was Jackson’s left, on which, as ordered, I formed my men; the three companies which had joined me, as heretofore stated, having been detached, as far as I can learn, by General Johnston and placed under the command of Colonel F. J. Thomas of his staff, who was unfortunately killed. I have recently visited the spot where he fell. From the time I reported to General Beauregard to the time I took my position on the left, we were at no time under fire, certainly none that annoyed us. It may not be amiss here to add that the half dozen cheers to which I have referred, and with which General Beauregard was honored, had, I have reason to believe, a very happy effect on our troops and a very depressing one on those of the enemy, being regarded by him as the indications of frequent and heavy reinforcements from General Johnston’s army. At least the letters of the Federal correspondents, which were spread all over the country and were, as I have heard, republished in Europe, so stated; while I know that the entire force represented by those cheers did not exceed 450 men, one-half of whom belonged to the Army of the Potomac.

Having taken my position, I found myself quite well sheltered from view by a small growth of old-field pines, as was Jackson’s left, with some small gullies now plainly to be seen in the rear of my left. Looking around me, I found myself on the eastern slope of the ridge or plateau, opposite to, with my left a little to the south of the Henry house, and directly in front of Rickett’s battery, which had just taken position. I am quite sure the enemy had not yet discovered us. I admonished my men to be cool and deliberate, and not to fire without an object under sight, and gave the word to fire. This fire, with Jackson’s, which was no doubt simultaneous, was so destructive that it utterly disabled the Rickett’s battery for all efficient purposes. I am not sure, but I am under the impression, that it never fired upon us more than once, if that. Three times was it taken and retaken before the enemy gave up the struggle to retain it. I had a number of men wounded at the guns–two of them, James and John Wells, brothers, wounded on one of the guns; and James, although shot through the lungs, is still living and able to do a day’s work as a post and rail fencer. Indeed, such was the impetuosity of one of these charges–the first, I think–that two of my men, Kirkpatrick and Suddoth, penetrated so deeply into the enemy’s lines that they could not fall back with their comrades when repulsed, but remained in the confused masses of the enemy, unnoticed I presume, until another charge, which almost immediately followed, extricated them.

Shortly after this bloody strife began, looking to my left, I saw a heavy mass of the enemy advancing from the direction of the Sudley and Manassas road, on a parallel with the equi-distant between my line of battle and the Henry house. For a moment I thought I must be doubled up, but had resolved to stand my ground, cost what it might, when to my great relief, the Sixth North Carolina, Colonel Fisher, and the Second Mississippi, Colonel Falkner, came up from the direction of the Lewis house, and formed in much confusion on my left, relieving me, however, in a great degree from my perilous position. I had three times stopped these regiments as previously described, and now they came up so opportunely to my relief that it almost seemed to be an act of Providence. By the time they had formed in tolerable order, the enemy nearly covered their front without seeming to have discovered them. Being on my extreme left, one of the North Carolinians recognizing me, called to me from his ranks: “That is the enemy; shall we fire?” I replied: “Don’t be in a hurry; don’t fire upon friends.” At the instant a puff of wind spread out the Federal flag, and I added, “There is no mistake; give them h–l, boys!” thus giving orders most strangely to a regiment which was not under my command, to begin the fight. The enemy was soon scattered and disappeared from the field. I have not been able, after much investigation, to discover his name or number. Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot, of the Sixth North Carolina, claims that his regiment united with us in one of the charges on the enemy’s guns and to have suffered severely. It was on this charge, I presume, that Colonel Fisher was killed, as he fell some one hundred and fifty yards in advance of his original line of battle. When driven back from the enemy’s guns neither the North Carolinians nor Mississippians remained to renew the charge, but incontinently left the field.

I was thus again on the left of our line of battle, with no enemy in sight. On my flank I had suffered severely. Major Smith had been shot down in my lines–his leg broken just below the hip; Captain Ward had been mortally wounded in the charge, and died in a few hours; the enemy had charged into my lines and been repulsed, several prisoners being captured, among them a Captain Butterworth, I think, of the First Michigan, who was shot down in my lines, badly wounded, and a private of the same regiment, I presume, who held Major Smith in his arms until the fight was over, and he was relieved by the removal of Major Smith to Dogan’s, near by, where he was confined for many weeks. It was about this time that Colonel Hunton, with his gallant regiment, appeared upon the field, charged and cleared out the scattered fragments of the enemy about and near the Henry house, and thus shared in and materially contributed to the final result. Nor must I omit to state here, that he was indebted to me for the opportunity he so handsomely improved, to share in the glories of the day.

The battle being now substantially at an end, I made, for the time being, such arrangements for my killed and wounded as the occasion required. Attracted by an artillery firing, apparently some two hundred yards southwest from my position, I concluded to see what it meant. On my way I encountered an officer lying dead. I was told it was colonel Fisher, of the Sixth North Carolina, who was killed in a charge as I have previously described. Passing on I reached the battery of Captain Delaware Kemper, and found him firing upon the enemy retreating on the ridge running northerly from the Chinn by the Dogan house. He was on the eastern side of the Sudley road, and some half mile from his target. “With that beautiful precision inaugurated at Vienna,” he soon drove the enemy for shelter, to the western slope of the ridge, while on receiving his fire, the enemy’ sharp-shooters would run to the crest of the ridge and empty their long range guns, in reply. No injury was done to Captain Kemper or his command, of which I am aware, during the half hour, or less, that I remained with it–the enemy’s shot occasionally fell about us with sufficient force to wound or kill. Leaving Captain Kemper, I rode to a squad of officers some one hundred and fifty yards to the right, composed of Preston, Kershaw, and others, also overlooking the retreating foe, without the power to prevent it. It moved me deeply, almost to tears. Although now getting late, I concluded to ride down the turnpike, and went as far as Cub Run bridge. Here I found the bridge not passable, from an immense jam of the enemy’s wagons and other vehicles, and the stream not fordable. Returning to my position in the fight, to see if my orders had been executed, I found everything done to my satisfaction, except that Captain Butterworth, to whom I have before referred, had not been removed. No one was with him but my servant Pin. To my enquiry why he, the Captain, had not been cared for, he replied that all the wagons which had passed were filled with our own wounded, but that he hoped soon to get him in. It was now nearly 9 P. M., with every prospect of a bad night, and I directed my servant to take from under my saddle four or five blankets, which my dear wife had provided for my own exigencies, and to make him as comfortable as possible. I also charged my servant to lay my commands on the first wagon which passed to take him in and carry him to the hospital, while he must remain by him until this was done. The officer was grateful for my arrangements for his comfort; inquired of my servant who I was, and handing him his pistols, a beautiful pair, directed him to hand them to me, with an earnest request that I would accept them as the evidence of his gratitude for the kind and generous care I had taken of him: at least, so said my servant when he delivered the pistols to me next morning, and added, that I had scarcely left them the night before, when a wagon passing by, was stopped, the officer taken in and duly delivered to the hospital. Subsequently inquiring about him, I was informed that he had been moved to Orange Courthouse, where he died.

It was now fully 9 P. M. I had been in the saddle from a little after sunrise. I was much fatigued from the constant exertions and anxieties of the day, besides I had slept but little the two preceding nights–the night promised to be a bad one; and so, I concluded to seek the hospitable roof of my friend Dogan, where my Major was already quartered. The road to Dogan’s passed over the bloody plateau, on which a large portion of the fighting had been done, and near the Henry house. The field through which I rode was well nigh covered with the Federal dead and wounded; and as my horse’s step announced the passing of a human being, the wail of suffering humanity, and deep cry for water, water, which burst upon the otherwise profound stillness of the hour, was absolutely agonizing. I understood the appeal, but without the power to give relief, was compelled to leave them to those who were already actively engaged in collecting the wounded and carrying them where their wants could be attended to. On reaching Dogan’s, I saw by the imperfect light of a somewhat clouded moon, that his porch, yard and stable adjoining the yard, seemed full of the enemy’s wounded. Taking my seat in the porch, one of the wounded men, I think from New Hampshire, asked me about my position in the fight. Apparently satisfied with my reply, he said, “I thought I recognized you when you rode up, and particularly your horse. Three times did I fire upon you during the fight,” and added with the most perfect simplicity, “Of course, what I did was in the way of business and not in malice.” My horse was shot in the neck, and I suppose I owe to this man the injury he received. However, I soon retired, and notwithstanding the exciting and important incidents of the day, I slept soundly and awoke with the morn, refreshed and buoyant, resolved to perform my whole duty in the grand drama, in which I had undertaken to perform a part.

I should not, perhaps, omit an incident of the day, as it illustrates an important duty of the officer. On the morning of the fight (I was not provided with a commissary) a man, whom I did not know, reported to me as my acting commissary, stating that supplies for my command had been turned over to him, and he wished to know if he should destroy them, as he supposed we would soon engage the enemy. Amazed! I replied, “Destroy them! No. Take good care of them and issue them as the law and your duty requires. I am sorry thus to learn that you already assume that we are to be whipped.” Meeting him the next morning, I said, “Well, sir, what have you done with your supplies?” He replied, “Obeyed your orders, and am now issuing them to your men.” I then said, “Let this incident be a lesson to you, never to destroy anything committed to your care, without it would materially injure our enemies or materially benefit ourselves.”

I might here close this article contented with the very handsome notice taken of my command, in the official reports of the Generals commanding. But Dr. Dabney’s Life of Jackson, and the official reports of the day, recently published by the Federal Government, and until then unseen by me, impose upon me the duty of asserting for my command, even at this late day, its just claim upon the love and admiration of its country.

It must not be forgotten that my command had been organized only three days, and was wholly unused to arms, and was now on its third day called upon to perform the duties of the veteran soldier; it passed along the rear of Bee’s and Jackson’s brigades, and it may be Gautrell’s regiment, to form on the left–a position of peculiar danger, as the great effort of the enemy was to turn our left; that we took about 2 to 21/2 P. M., our position, and in musket range of the Rickett’s and Griffin batteries; that we had scarcely opened our fire when a heavy column of the enemy appeared, from the direction of the Sudley and Manassas road, moving on a line about equi-distant between my left and the Henry house, obviously to flank me, which was happily anticipated by the opportune arrival of the Sixth North Carolina; that my command three times, the North Carolinians once co-operating, charged the Ricketts battery before the enemy gave up the struggle to hold it; that my flank was again left, by the withdrawal of the Mississippians and North Carolinians, exposed; that my loss was slightly in excess of that of Jackson’s brigade, which only came under fire in the afternoon, at the same time that I did, slightly more than that of Hampton’s Legion, and slightly less than that of Bee’s brigade, as 40 to 43; while in the afternoon’s fight, during which we were engaged together, my command suffered a much larger percentage of loss than any other in the field, except Jackson’s, and slightly in excess of that. And I now mention these illustrious commands for the special purpose of showing that, however high the standard they have established for the qualities of the true soldier, my command may justly and proudly claim to have come fully up to it–par nobile fatrum.

In view, then, of these facts, it can but excite surprise that Dr. Dabney should, in his life of Jackson, have claimed for his brigade the whole merit of capturing Ricketts battery, &c. It is the more remarkable, as General Jackson did not do it. In his official report, speaking of a charge he had ordered, he says, “He pierced the enemy’s centre, and by co-operating with the victorious Fifth and other forces [the italics are mine], soon placed the field essentially in our possession.” Again, he says: “The brigade, in connection with other troops, took seven field pieces, in addition to the battery captured by Colonel Cummings.” General Jackson also says: “The enemy, although repulsed in the centre, succeeded in turning our flanks.” If the General meant his left flank, he was under a mistake. I was on his left, and know that no effort was made to turn mine but once, and that failed, as heretofore stated. I presume General Jackson does not refer to the movements of the enemy west of the Manassas road, as they were promptly arrested and the enemy was driven back.

I omitted to mention in the proper place that Lieutenant-Colonel Murray in one of our charges upon the enemy’s guns, finding that we could not hold them, spiked one of them with a nail he had in his pocket.

My next article will be a narative of the personal incidents of the battle of Seven Pines, the bloodiest fight, as far as my command was concerned, in which I ever was engaged.

RELATIVE LOSSES.

Colonel Evans began the fight with the subjoined forces and lost during the day as follows:

evans

Force estimated at 1,300 men.

The above command was relieved by General Bee’s Brigade consisting of

bee

2,800 muskets.

Colonel Hampton’s Legion fought through the day. Had 27 officers and 600 men, and lost 19 killed and 100 wounded.

General Jackson’s Brigade consisted of five regiments, as follows:

jackson

Dr. Dabney estimates 2,700.

Forty-ninth Virginia Volunteers, Col. Smith, 210 men. Officers killed, 1; men killed, 9; officers wounded, 1; men wounded, 29–aggregate 40.

William Smith.








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