SCWH Newsletter

9 10 2009

I received the Fall 2009 Society of Civil War Historians newsletter today.  Mostly it lists the Civil War related sessions at the upcoming Southern Historical Association‘s conference in Louisville, KY in November.

By far the best thing in this issue of the newsletter is Mark Grimsley’s review of Battle: the Nature and Consequences of Civil War Combat, a collection of essays edited by Kent Gramm.  I reviewed the collection in brief for America’s Civil War last year, and there’s only so much one can do with the “in brief” format.  Prof. Grimsley gave the essays by GNMP historian Scott Hartwig and Dr. Bruce Evans high marks, but skewered the remaining four with considerable flair.  Check it out – it should be in your mailbox today, unless you’re not a member.  You can fix that by going here.





SHSP – Company C, 4th VA Infantry at Bull Run

9 08 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904, pp. 174-178

Company C, 4th Virginia Infantry, at the First Battle of Manassas, July 18, 1861

THE ORIGINAL REBEL YELL

With Prefatory Note by U. S. Senator, J. W. Daniel

BY J. B. CADDALL

[From the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch, Nov. 27, 1904]

Editor of The Times-Dispatch:

SIR,–In forming his line of battle at first Manassas Jackson placed the 4th Virginia Infantry, under Colonel James F. Preston, in rear of his artillery as an immediate support, and the 27th Virginia Infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel John Echols, in close order directly behind the 4th. The two regiments, except without the line of the 4th, was larger than the 29th, on account of its larger numbers, appeared as one body, four ranks deep. To the left of those two regiments, and almost at a right angle, was the 5th Virginia, under Colonel Kenton Harper, and to their left in the woods, were the 2d Virginia, under Colonel James W. Allen (who was afterwards killed at Gaines’ Mill) and then the 33d Virginia, under Colonel Arthur Cummings, constituted the left flank of the brigade.

When the critical juncture came, Jackson galloped to the right of the Fourth Virginia, called for Colonel Preston, told him in a few sharp words to “order the men behind, up,” and to “charge and drive them to Washington!” “Attention!” “Forward march!” “Left oblique march!” were the commands quickly given; “left oblique,” an order to press the left flank of our artillery, which was between our infantry and Pickett’s and Griffin’s guns, which were to be charged.

Mr. J. B. Caddall, of Pulaski, was then in the 4th Virginia, and he gives an account, afterwards endorsed, with some interesting incidents of this regiment.

It is a notable fact that Jackson’s brigade line furnished the first immovable obstacle to McDowell’s advance, for while all the troops acted gallantly that day those previously engaged had been unable to withstand the weight of numbers thrown against them. The first stand of Jackson and his timely onset, alike checked, halted and repulsed the enemy, and then joined with arriving reinforcements, in driving them from the field.

Mr. Caddall calls attention to the fact that “the rebel yell” made its first appearance in the cheer of Jackson’s men in their charge.

The “four deep” line of the 4th and 27th Virginia was a formation that we do not hear of on any other field. It proved particularly fortunate and efficient on this occasion, but it escapes the notice of most historians, even of Colonel Henderson, one of the most accurate, as well as most wise, graphic and brilliant of military writers. The heaviest loss on Jackson’s regiment fell upon the 27th Virginia, which, namely, 141 killed and wounded, nineteen of whom were killed, and this gallant little regiment was afterwards called “The bloody Twenty-seventh.”

JOHN W. DANIEL

Lynchburg, Va., November 18, 1904

—–

THE PULASKI GUARDS

On the 23d of April, 1861, in the old City Hall, in Richmond, “The Pulaski Guards,” commanded by Captain James A. Walker, was mustered into the service of the State of Virginia by Colonel John B. Baldwin, of Staunton, inspector-general of the militia of the State.

This company, which had been organized a year or more previously, was composed of sixty strong, stalwart young men, ranging in their ages principally from eighteen to thirty years, though there were several older men who had seen service in the United States army in Mexico, and with General Albert Sidney Johnston on the Western plains. Among the veterans were R. D. Gardner, first lieutenant of the company, later noted for his coolness and courage in leading his regiment as lieutenant-colonel into battle; Theophilus J. Cocke, Robert Lorton, John Owens, and David Scantlon, the company’s drummer.

This company, designated as “Company C,” constituted a part of the newly organized 4th Regiment of Virginia infantry, under the command of Colonel James F. Preston, who had been a captain in the Mexican war. The 4th Regiment was ordered to Harper’s Ferry, where it was organized into a brigade, with the 2d, 5th, 27th and 33d Virginia Regiments, and the brigade was known as the 1st Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah. This brigade was commanded by Brigadier-General T. J. Jackson, and constituted a part of General Joseph E. Johnston’s command in the Valley of Virginia on the 18th of July, 1861. General Johnston, with his forces from the Valley, was ordered to join General Beauregard at Manassas. In the disposition of the forces, Beauregard occupied a line along Bull Run on July 21, 1861. General Johnston was on his left, with his line thrown back at something like a right angle below the stone bridge, to protect the left flank of the army. Jackson’s brigade was placed on the left of Hampton, Bartow and Bee, which commands had previously taken positions on the field, and General Jackson made the following disposition of his force: The Rockbridge Artillery, under the Rev. W. N. Pendleton, as captain, which had been attached to the brigade, was placed in position on the crest of the hill to the right of the Henry house, commanding the plateau towards the stone house on the Sudley road. Immediately in the rear of and supporting this battery was the 4th Regiment, under Colonel James F. Preston, with the 27th Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel John Echols, formed a few paces in its rear. The 5th Regiment was on the right of the brigade, and the 33d and 2d Virginia Regiments on the left. This position was maintained for two hours in a broiling July sun in an open field, subjected to a fire from the artillery of the enemy from which the two regiments, 4th and 27th, immediately in rear of the battery, suffered serious loss.

At about 3 o’clock the enemy had pushed forward a strong column of infantry and artillery, and had arrived in close proximity of Jackson’s left flank near the Henry House. At this time the men of the 4th Regiment were lying flat on their faces on the ground in the rear of the battery to escape the heavy artillery fire of the enemy when we were called to attention and ordered forward on the double-quick, and on an oblique move to the left over a stake and brush fence, through a skirt of pines and subject to a heavy fire of musketry. In a very few minutes we were in close contact with the ranks of the enemy of which a very conspicuous body was a Zouave Regiment from New York, with highly decorated uniforms, consisting of loosely fitting red breeches, blue blouses, with Turkish tassel as headgear. Jackson’s men rushed at them, with fixed bayonets, every man yelling at the top of his voice. Here was the origin of the “Rebel yell,” which afterwards became so conspicuous in later battles of the Army of Northern Virginia. The men fired as rapidly as they could load their old smooth-bore muskets, and in a few minutes the Confederates were in full possession of that part of the field, and a fine battery of field artillery, Ricketts, which was in position near the Henry House, was captured.

The charge of Jackson’s brigade on that day turned the tide of battle, which to that time had seemed against the Confederates, and in a short time there was not to be seen an organized body of Federals south of Bull Run, but their forces were in rapid retreat toward Washington.

Company “C,” of which the writer was a member, was the color, or flag company of the regiment, and suffered a heavy loss–seven killed and twenty-three wounded. The flagstaff was shot in two, the color-bearer immediately repairing the damage by lashing a bayonet over the break and proceeded with the regiment in the charge.

David H. Scantlon, who was an enlisted member of Company C, 4th Virginia Infantry (Pulaski Guards), had seen service in the Mexican war and was an expert drummer. He was noted for his orderly habits and his strict obedience and observance of military discipline. He was drummer for the volunteer company before entering the Confederate army, and they had bought for his use a handsome brass kettle drum, which had a clear, ringing tone. Scantlon prized this drum very highly, and at all times exercised for it the most scrupulous care. In the army he was chief drummer for the regiment, and always seemed filled with enthusiasm when, with two other drums and the shrill notes of a couple of fifes playing “Highland Mary,” or “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” he marched at the head of the regiment at dress parade or in review.

Scantlon accompanied the 4th Regiment in the charge of the battle of Manassas, and after the capture of the Rickett’s Battery, the regiment being in some confusion, he was ordered by Colonel Preston to beat “the rally,” which he immediately proceeded to do, after first having turned his back to the enemy. On being asked by an officer near him why he turned his back to the enemy, he replied:

“Do you suppose I want the Yankees to shoot a hole through my new brass drum?”

One more humorous incident: While the 4th was lying in the rear of the Rockbridge Artillery, the men flat on their faces to lessen the exposure to the heavy artillery fire of the enemy, and while their shells were shrieking very close over us or exploding about us, a member of the company was very zealously and earnestly calling upon the Lord for mercy, for protection, and for help in the time of such imminent danger. During his devotions he would tell the Lord that he had been all through Mexico, but he had never seen anything half so bad as that; just then another shell would whistle over in very close proximity, when with the greatest earnestness he would exclaim:

“Oh, Lord, have mercy on me!”

At this point a comrade near his side would respond: “Me, too, Lord,” whether from inability to frame his own supplications or in a spirit of humor, no one then present took occasion to enquire.

J. B. CADDALL

Co. C, 4th Va. Infantry





SHSP – Harper’s Ferry and First Manassas

3 06 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXVIII. Richmond, Va., January-December 1900, pp. 58-71

Harper’s Ferry And First Manassas

Extracts from the Diary of Captain JAMES M. GARNETT, in charge of General Reserve Ordnance Train, Army of Northern Virginia, from January, 1863, to February, 1864; and Ordnance Officer of Rodes’s (later Grimes’s) Division, 2d Corps, A. N. Va., from February, 1864, to April 9, 1865.

RESERVE ORDNANCE TRAIN, A. N. VA.,

CAMP NEAR COBHAM STATION, V. C. R. R.,

Wednesday, September 9th, 1863

Monday, April 15th, 1861, may be considered the commencement of this war for Virginia, for on that day appeared Lincoln’s proclamation for 75,000 men to “crush the rebellion,” which hurried up our old fogy Convention, and compelled their secession on Wednesday, April 17th. I was at that time at the University of Virginia, that session being my third, as I went there from the Episcopal High School of Virginia in ’57, spent sessions ’57-‘8 and ’58-‘9 at the University, taught ’59-’60 at Greenwood, Mr. Dinwiddie’s boarding-school in this (Albemarle) county, and returned to the University the session of ’60-’61.

This proclamation created quite a sensation at the University, raising the military enthusiasm to the highest pitch, and especially filling our two companies, the “Southern Guard,” Captain E. S. Hutter, and the “Sons of Liberty,” Captain J. Tosh, with an earnest desire to lend a hand in the defence of our State.

The taking of Harper’s Ferry was the first object that presented itself to our minds, and when, on Wednesday, Captain Duke returned from Richmond with authority to take 300 men to Harper’s Ferry, our two companies, with the “Albemarle Rifles,” Captain Duke, and the “Monticello Guards,” Captain Mallory, from Charlottesville, offered our services. We immediately got ready, and that night, when the train from Staunton, with the “West Augusta Guards,” the “Mountain Guards,” and Imboden’s Battery, from Augusta county, came along, we joined them and went on to Harper’s Ferry, taking up different volunteer companies all along the railroad, until, when we reached Strasburg about 12 o’clock Thursday, where we had to “take it afoot,” our force was quite formidable, numbering some eight or ten companies, of seventy to eighty men each, and a battery of four pieces. We marched from Strasburg to Winchester, eighteen miles, between 1 o’clock and 8, pretty good marching, considering it was our first effort; wagons were along to carry the little baggage we had, and to relieve us, but most of the men marched the whole way. We stopped in Winchester only long enough to take supper, supping at different private houses, the citizens welcoming us with lavish hospitality, tho’ some, not knowing that the movement was authorized by Governor Letcher–as it had not then been publicly made known that Virginia had seceded–thought it was a move of the self-constituted Secession Convention, which had met in Richmond on Tuesday, April 16th, and the fact of which meeting, I think, helped to hurry up our laggard Convention to do what it ought to have done two months before. I, and many others, supped that night with my friend, David Barton, Jr., who had volunteered from the University for this special service, not being a regular member of our company, the “Southern Guard.” He has since gone to his God, where wars will never trouble him more, having been killed in the first battle of Fredericksburg, December 13th, ’62.

About 9 o’clock we all started on the train for Harper’s Ferry, only thirty-two miles distant, but such was the slowness of the train and the uncertainty of the commanding officers as to what force we should find at the Ferry, that we did not reach there until 4 o’clock the next morning, about six hours after Lieutenant Jones, of the United States Army, with his handful of men, had burnt the Armory buildings and retreated towards Carlisle, Pa. We learnt that some of the Clarke and Jefferson companies had gotten in the neighborhood the evening before, in time to have taken the place and saved the buildings, arms, &c., but they also were ignorant of the force at the Ferry and delayed to attack.

It is quite amusing now to think of the way in which military affairs were conducted at Harper’s Ferry when we first went there. General William H. Harman, Brigadier-General Virginia Militia, was in command until General Kenton Harper, Major-General Virginia Militia, arrived there; these two officers were afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel and Colonel respectively of the 5th Virginia regiment. On Friday, the day we reached the Ferry, the Baltimore outbreak took place, and when we received the news we were greatly elated, but unfortunately it was merely a puff of wind, which soon died out. Then was the time, if ever, for the Marylanders to have armed and organized, and Maryland would not now be trodden down by Lincoln’s serfs, with no prospect of ever obtaining her independence.

* * * * *

We continually had alarms at the Ferry. On Saturday morning our company was turned out to attack the train, which was said to be coming down loaded with Federal troops, and about 11 o’clock that night we were roused to go up on the Loudoun heights and support Imboden’s Battery, which the enemy couldn’t have gotten at in any conceivable way except by approaching through Loudoun on Virginia soil, and the other University company, the “Sons of Liberty,” were sent across the bridge and down the railroad, just opposite this battery and ourselves, and just where we were directed to fire if the enemy came, and if our smooth-bore muskets could carry that far, which was more than doubtful.

The next morning (Sunday), we scrambled down the mountain and returned to our barracks, very much wearied, after first reporting ourselves at the “General’s Headquarters,” where an amusing little scene took place between the Acting Inspector-General, who found fault with the way in which one of the men ordered arms, and one of our lieutenants, who informed him that the company had had a drill-master. The next day we learnt that the Governor had ordered the “Charlottesville Battalion,” as our four companies under Captain George Carr (formerly of the U. S. Army) were called, to return home, and that evening we left for Winchester, where we remained all night, and went to Strasburg the next morning in wagons provided for our accommodation. I think we were rather glad on the whole that we were leaving the Ferry, though our military ardor was not quite cooled down by our “short, but arduous” campaign. We saw a little service, at all events, having been ordered out twice, in the morning and at night (and the night march was pretty severe for us), and having stood guard several times; my post was at the old burnt Armory buildings. We also saw some fun in searching the houses of Harper’s Ferry for secreted arms, a great many of which we found.

On the whole we were very much pleased with our expedition, and considered war fine fun in those days; how we have changed our opinions since!

On our return by Manassas Junction on Wednesday, April 24th (my birthday, by the way, and the day on which I attained my majority), I received permission from our Captain to go on to Alexandria, in order to pay a visit to the Episcopal High School, where my relations, Mr. McGuire’s family, resided. I created quite a sensation, with my blue flannel shirt, red collar and cuffs, black pants, white cross-belts, musket and accoutrements, and from the fact that I had been to Harper’s Ferry. After remaining there two or three days, the last time I have had an opportunity of seeing the dear old place, on Saturday I returned to the University.

Sunday, September 20th, [1863]

I have neglected this narrative for nearly a fortnight, but as today is Sunday and I have nothing to do, there being no service near, I will endeavor to continue it now.

Soon after reaching the University, our company requested the Governor, through our Captain, Ned Hutter, to accept our services, but he and General Lee, then commanding the Virginia forces, refused, saying that it was “too much good material to put in one company.” We were required to give up our Minié muskets, which we had gotten at Harper’s Ferry; so, after continuing our drills a few times more, our company disbanded, and the different members scattered themselves throughout the State and the South, entering the service in different capacities. Some received appointments in the Virginia Provisional Army, which appointments were vacated by general order about September 1st following. I applied for one of these, but before receiving it the Virginia forces were turned over to the Confederacy, and no more appointments were made; I consider it fortunate now that I didn’t get it. I determined to remain at the University till the end of the session, but in May, just before the election of Thursday, May 24th, I went home to Hanover county, desiring to vote in my own county for the Ordinance of Secession, which was at that time ratified almost unanimously by the people of the State.

The Yankees about that time raised their “hue and cry” about Union feeling in the South, and especially in Virginia, but the unanimity with which the Ordinance of Secession was ratified well shows–what we knew all along–that there was no Union feeling in the State, except in some of the Western counties, which have now still further earned our contempt by forming the Yankee “bogus” State of “West Virginia.” The Yankees have found out by this time that the farce of Union feeling in the South is played out, and have left off making a fuss about it.

After voting for secession (and for the taxation amendment too, tho’ it was against the interest of Eastern Virginia), I returned to the University, but very little studying of text-books did I do during the remainder of the session. My attention was chiefly occupied in studying Mahan’s “Field Fortification” and other works on engineering, especially the articles of the encyclopædias in the University library, as I had some idea at that time of applying for an appointment in the Confederate Engineer Corps, but I gave that out before the close of the session, and on Tuesday, July 2d (the session ended on the 4th), I left the University with the intention of joining Captain (now Brigadier-General) W. N. Pendleton’s battery, the “Rockbridge Artillery,” which some of my friends and college-mates had already joined. After remaining at home long enough to get ready, and declining to apply for an appointment in the Marine Corps, which I believe I could have gotten at that time, I left Hanover Junction with my friend Channing Page, now Captain of a battery, July 13th, for Winchester, both of us intending to join Pendleton’s battery, which we found encamped near that place.

I remained at Mrs. Barton’s a few days, and on Wednesday, July 17th, enlisted in Pendleton’s battery, in which I then had several friends, amongst others, Dave Barton (2), Holmes Boyd (3), Bob McKim (4), Liv. Massie (5), Clem. Fishburne (6), and Channing Page (7), with all of whom I had been at college the previous session, and Joe Packard (8), an old school-mate at the Episcopal High School.

I was not destined to remain quiet long after entering the service, for about midday of the day following we started on our march to Manassas to take part in the great battle which was expected to come off. Our destination was revealed to us when we had gotten a few miles from Winchester, and the announcement was received with loud cheering. After crossing the Opequan I attempted to go forward to Millwood, but was stopped by Colonel Preston, commanding the advance regiment (4th Virginia), although I had permission from my immediate commander, Captain Pendleton. How angry I was at this infringement of what I considered my rights after obtaining my Captain’s permission! but being helpless of myself, I appealed to my friend Sandy Pendleton (9), Aid to General Jackson, our Brigadier, to obtain the General’s permission for me, in which he succeeded, and I went forward, sending a message on the way to my cousins, who were staying at Mr. John E. Page’s in the neighborhood, to meet me at Millwood. They reached there soon after I did, and I remained until our battery came through, tho’ my walk–and my passion too–had given me a severe headache, and I was forced to ride in the ammunition-wagon attached to our battery, in which I crossed the Shenandoah, fortunately being thus prevented from wading, which nearly all of the men had to do. After crossing the river I rode on to Paris on the horse of Bowyer Brockenbrough (10), First Lieutenant of our battery, and a former college-mate of mine, and we slept on a porch [in Paris], sheltered from the rain which fell. Oversleeping ourselves we found that the battery had the start of us about two hours. Bowyer went on ahead, and I followed on foot until a little boy with some ladies offered me part of his horse, and in this way I reached Piedmont station, where the infantry were taking the cars. Our battery went on a mile beyond and waited there nearly all that day (Friday) for the rest of the artillery to come up, when we started about 7 o’clock P. M., and travelled until 4 A. M., rested two hours at The Plains, and reached Manassas about half-past two P. M., Saturday, July 20th.

General Johnston’s force was thought to be about 18,000 men, with five batteries, tho’ I doubt whether the infantry force was quite so large. Most of this force reached Manassas in time for the battle, General Kirby Smith’s brigade coming up while the action was going on. We slept quietly that night, tho’ our only rations were some provisions that had been sent to one of my friends, which fortunately lasted us for supper and breakfast. The next morning Joe Packard and I went to Bull Run to bathe; while there an old darkey passed, remarking that, if we knew as much as he did, we wouldn’t be there; we didn’t think much of it at the time, but his remark occurred to us afterwards.

On returning to camp we found that one of our guns was ordered to the front. I obtained permission to be assigned to this gun, and as I had the horse of a surgeon, which I had ridden down from Piedmont station, I galloped on with it, but after going a mile or two we were ordered back without having our anticipations of a fight realized. We found the whole battery hitched up and ready to go forward. The cannonading had commenced on the extreme left about 6 A. M., and was then going on. Presently we were astonished by a shot striking within twenty steps of some of us who were lying down, and ricocheting over our heads; it was fired at a party on a hill beyond us, but fell short. What an excitement this, to many of us, first shot, created. We were soon ordered to a more secure position on the roadside, the wagons being sent back towards Manassas, and with them I sent the horse that I had been riding, which was stolen at Manassas. The owner afterwards came to me about the horse and I gave him what information I had, but am ignorant whether he ever got his horse. Our position at this time was not far from Mitchell’s Ford on Bull Run, which was about the centre of our line, where there was very little fighting during the day.

We had not been long in our position near the road before General Johnston came along, riding at full speed towards the field, and spoke to Captain Pendleton, and we were immediately ordered forward at a trot, cannoneers on the caissons. We went at this speed for about three miles, till we came to the Lewis House within reach of the enemy’s shells, where we were halted for a while. Here I first saw men wounded, some severely and covered with blood, others slightly, limping to the rear. We were then but poorly supplied with ambulances, and our surgeons but poorly acquainted with their duties, so I suppose the men suffered extremely. Besides the wounded coming to the rear, some, as usual, saying we were “cut all to pieces,” here were officers rallying stragglers, staff-officers and couriers riding to and fro, reserve troops and artillery awaiting orders, and other incidents to the immediate rear of a line of battle. We did not wait long, but were soon ordered to the front. We went up through a low pine thicket, the shells hissing and screaming all around us, so that it was a miracle that some of us were not knocked off the caissons.

On reaching the top of the hill, we turned to the right and took position amongst the other artillery wherever each piece could find room enough for itself, so that our battery was scattered along the line. We were immediately in front of a piece of woods in the edge of which the brigade to which we belonged, and which that day gained for itself the sobriquet “Stonewall,” was lying, and which unfortunately received most of the shells aimed at us. On taking position we immediately unlimbered and commenced firing, and kept it up for about two hours and a half, from 12 to 2:30 P. M. How well I remember that day! Liv. Massie (11),” No. 1, sponging and ramming, Dave Moore (12), No. 4, inserting the friction primer and pulling the lanyard, Lyt. Macon (13), No. 5, not performing the duties of No. 5, as I was acting in that capacity that day, but receiving the shot from me and giving them to No. 2, assisting also to roll up the gun after each recoil, and talking all the time, Bill Brown (14),” Corporal, coolly and deliberately aiming the piece, and making almost every shot tell, and Joe Packard (15), No. 7, receiving the shot from No. 6 at the limber, advancing a short distance, and giving them to me as I went to and fro between the piece and the limber. Our little 6-pounder, which we thought more of than we would now of a 30-pounder Parrott, did good work that day. Our captain occasionally passed us, going from one piece to another to see that we were doing our duty, and shrugging his shoulders as a shell would come rather close for comfort. I saw him once or twice near our piece, conversing with him a short while, and I thought he was occupied most of the time in going up and down the line. During the action a limber chest was blown up, belonging to a piece of Stanard’s battery, on our immediate left. The wheel-horses fell as if they had been struck by lightning, and it quite astonished us for a while, tho’ it didn’t interfere with our work. The musketry fire on our left gradually grew hotter and hotter, and presently what was our surprise to receive orders for all the artillery to leave the field! We went off as rapidly as possible, feeling very doubtful as to which party would gain the day, and thinking that the withdrawal of the artillery looked badly for us–but we didn’t know.

CAMP NEAR GORDONSVILLE: [VA.]

Tuesday, December 22, 1863

I have put off writing here for some time, owing to movements of the army and absence from camp, but I will endeavor to continue now and keep up this record more regularly.

After the artillery was withdrawn to the Lewis House, the infantry became very heavily engaged, and the roll of musketry continued for more than an hour, when the enemy, much to our gratification, commenced to retreat, and the retreat became an utter rout. We had unlimbered our pieces and taken position near the Lewis House, and on the retreat of the enemy we fired a few shots at them, but the distance was almost too great for our short-range pieces, our battery then consisting only of one regulation six-pounder, two small Virginia Military Institute six-pounders, and one twelve-pounder howitzer. About this time, our President, Jefferson Davis, who had that day come up from Richmond, came on the field, and many of the battery shook hands with him, but I did not seek that honor, though standing quite near him.

I cannot describe our joy when we discovered that the enemy were actually retreating and our men were in pursuit, but our joy was not unmingled with sorrow, for we soon heard of the death of many dear friends. Soon after the retreat commenced, I heard of the death of a most intimate friend, H. Tucker Conrad, of Martinsburg, belonging to company D, 2d Virginia regiment. He was my school-mate at the Episcopal High School for two years, and my college-mate at the University of Virginia for two more, and a very dear friend. At the breaking out of the war he was a student of Divinity at the Episcopal Theological Seminary, near Alexandria, and after returning home he enlisted in the “Berkeley Border Guards,” the company from Martinsburg, belonging to the 2d Virginia regiment. He came out of Martinsburg to enlist in his country’s service while Patterson’s army was around the place, and not long after he died, as he would have wished to die, fighting for his country’s independence. His brother, Holmes A. Conrad, of the same company, was also killed that day, and almost at the same time with Tucker. I was not so well acquainted with Holmes, but Tucker I knew long and intimately, and can testify to his character and worth; a most devoted friend, a most faithful man, and a most pious Christian, he endeared himself to all who knew him, and his loss was most deeply felt.

Often have I thought of the pleasant times we have had together at school and at college. I trust that we may meet again in the world to come.

After the retreat several of our battery were sent on the field to collect and bring off captured guns and harness. This was my first view of a battle-field; men dead and wounded, scattered all around, horses dead and mangled, and others alive and wounded, arms and accoutrements strewed everywhere, and guns and caissons, some in good condition, others knocked to pieces–met our view on all sides; such scenes were new then, but they have become quite familiar since. We brought off several guns, with much harness and many blankets and overcoats, to the Lewis House, where we were camped for the night, I taking it on a caisson cover. I was awaked about daylight the next morning by the rain, but crept between the two folds of the caisson cover and slept a while longer. On awaking I saw passing several pieces of artillery, and among them a thirty-pounder Parrott piece, all of which had been captured on the retreat.

HEADQUARTERS RODES’S DIVISION

CAMP NEAR ORANGE C. H. [VA.]

March 10th, 1864

Notwithstanding my determination to continue this record regularly, I have neglected it for some time, but will continue now, writing off and on as I find leisure, for, having been lately transferred from the Reserve Ordnance Train to Major-General Rodes’s Division, I expect to be more occupied than I have heretofore been.

We spent Monday following the first battle of Manassas near the Lewis House, it raining incessantly the whole day, and none of us being able to procure any rations but hard crackers, and those only what had been captured. Fortunately one of my messmates, Joe Packard, had a jug of honey, and we lived off of honey and hard tack that day. That night, after imagining that I had found a comfortable place in a barn-loft to spend the night, I was summoned to go “on guard” for the first time in my military experience in the battery, and as Captain Pendleton wouldn’t hear to letting us off guard duty that night, I had to turn out notwithstanding the rain.

We had two posts, and Bev. Jones (16) was my companion in the relief. How it did rain! but we took it the best way we could, and, after the first relief was over, endeavored to find something to eat, but were not very successful. I frequently recall this first night “on guard,” barring my Harper’s Ferry experience, and must confess that it was almost as disagreeable as any other night I ever spent in that occupation. The next day we had some rations issued to us, and then moved back and camped near the house where General Jackson had his headquarters on the road to Manassas Station. We camped in the open field near a muddy stream, exposed to the heat of the sun and the attacks of innumerable insects, with the muddiest water to drink, and when it rained our camp was a perfect slush. Our stay at this camp produced such a vivid impression on us that we ever afterwards referred to it as “Camp Mudhole.” While at this camp, about August 3d, I obtained permission from Captain Pendleton to go up to Clarke county for three days to visit my cousins at Mr. Page’s, which furlough I spent there very pleasantly, and on returning found that the battery had moved down about one mile below Centreville on the turnpike to Fairfax Courthouse, and was camped there with the brigade (“Stonewall”) to which it was attached.

This camp was named by General Jackson “Camp Harman.” It was very pleasantly situated about one-fourth of a mile off the road, on the edge of a piece of woods, and convenient to two excellent springs. We enjoyed our stay there very much, tho’ the daily routine of camp life became very monotonous. We drilled both morning and evening, and part of the time before breakfast also, but that was soon dispensed with. We had three posts of guard duty, one at the guns and two at the horses, and each one’s turn came once in every five or six days. While here we exchanged some pieces of our battery and obtained two additional pieces, so that it was now constituted two (2) ten-pounder Parrott rifled guns, three (3) six-pounder smooth-bore guns, and one (1) twelve-pounder Howitzer; the six-pounder we retained was the one at which I served at the first battle of Manassas, which was then the third piece, but now the sixth, at which I was No. 2; this was the only piece used at the battle of Hainesville (or Falling Waters), the first skirmish that occurred in the Valley of Virginia, and this was the first piece fired in the Valley after the war commenced; it was also used in the war with Mexico and should have been preserved, but it has now, alas! been melted up to make twelve-pounder Napoleons, and so “gone the way of all flesh.”

Some more of my University friends joined the battery at this camp, among whom were Randolph Fairfax (a noble boy, afterwards killed at the first battle of Fredericksburg, December 13th, ’62), Lanty Blackford and Berkeley Minor (17). Our mess at that time consisted of about twenty-five or thirty, nearly all of the best fellows in the company, and we employed two Irishmen to cook for us, but the number being entirely too large, some of us employed a servant and organized another mess, consisting of ten of us, and ever afterwards knowne as “Mess No. 10;” it consisted of David Barton (18),” Holmes Boyd (18), Johnny Williams (19), Lyt. Macon (18), Lanty Blackford (20), Randolph Fairfax (21), Kinloch (22) and Philip Nelson(23), Bev. Jones (18), Ned Alexander (24), and myself (25). This was one more than the number, but Kinloch Nelson was sick for some time and we took Lanty Blackford in his place.

NOTES

1. Rev. William N. Pendleton, D. D., a West-Pointer, Rector of the Episcopal church in Lexington, Va.; soon appointed Colonel and Chief of Artillery of General Johnston’s army, and later Brigadier-General and Chief of Artillery of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

2. David R. Barton, Jr., of Winchester, Va., later appointed Lieutenant in Cutshaw’s Battery, and killed, as above stated, at Fredericksburg, December 13th, 1862.

3. E. Holmes Boyd, of Winchester, Va., later, September, 1863, appointed Lieutenant and Ordnance Officer of Brigadier-General J. M. Jones’s Brigade; now (1900) attorney-at-law in Winchester, Va.

4. Robert B. McKim, of Baltimore, Md., killed in the battle of Winchester, May 25th, 1862.

5. J. Livingston Massie, of Augusta county, Va., later Captain of Massie’s Battery, and killed September 24th, 1864, on General Early’s retreat, near the junction of the Valley turnpike and the Keezeltown road.

6. Clement D. Fishburne, of Augusta county, Va., later appointed Lieutenant and Ordnance Officer of Cabell’s Battalion of Artillery; now (1900) Cashier of the Bank of Albemarle, Charlottesville Va.; author of a “Sketch of the Rockbridge Artillery,” in Vol. XXIII, of Southern Historical Society Papers.

7. R. Channing M. Page, of Albemarle county, Va., later Captain of Page’s Battery and Major of a Battalion of Artillery; physician in New York city; died a few years ago.

8. Joseph Packard, Jr., of Fairfax county, Va., later Lieutenant and assistant in charge of General Reserve Ordnance Train, A. N. Va.; now (1900) attorney-at-law and President of the School Board of Baltimore, Md.

9. Alexander S. Pendleton, of Lexington, Va., son of General W. N. Pendleton, Aid-de-Camp to General T. J. Jackson, and later Lieutenant-Colonel and Adjutant-General of 2d corps, A. N. Va.; killed near Fisher’s Hill, September 22d, 1864, on General Early’s retreat.

10. J. Bowyer Brockenbrough, of Lexington, Va., later Captain of the Baltimore Light Artillery, promoted Major; still living (1900).

11. See note 5.

12. David E. Moore, Jr., of Lexington, Va., later Sergeant in the Rockbridge Artillery; now (1900) attorney-at-law in Lexington, Va.

13. Lyttleton S. Macon, of Albemarle county, Va., later Sergeant in the Rockbridge Artillery; sheriff of Albemarle county, Va.; now (1900) farming in Albemarle county, Va.

14. William M. Brown, of Rockbridge county, Va., later Lieutenant of the Rockbridge Artillery; now deceased.

15. See note 8.

16.Beverley R. Jones, of Frederick county, Va., now (1900) farming in Frederick county, Va.,

17. C. N. Berkeley Minor, of Hanover county, Va., later Lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of Engineers, and now (1900) Professor in the Virginia Female Institute at Staunton, Va.

18. See notes 2, 3, 13 and 16.
19. John J. Williams, of Winchester, Va., later Sergeant in Chew’s Battery of horse artillery; attorney-at-law and Mayor of Winchester, Va.; Commander of the Grand Camp, C. V., of Virginia; died in Baltimore, Md., October, 1899.

20. Launcelot M. Blackford, of Lynchburg, Va., later Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 24th Virginia Regiment; now (1900),and for thirty years past, Principal of the Episcopal High School of Virginia.

21. Randolph Fairfax, of Alexandria, Va., killed, as stated above, at Fredericksburg, Va., December 13th, 1862.

22. Kinloch Nelson, of Clarke county, Va., later Lieutenant and Ordnance Officer of Kemper’s Brigade, Pickett’s Division; Professor in the Episcopal Theological Seminary of Virginia; died a few years ago.

23. Philip Nelson, of Clarke county, Va., later Lieutenant in the 2d Virginia Regiment of infantry, “Stonewall Brigade;” now (1900) Superintendent of Schools of Albemarle county, Va.

24. “Edgar S. Alexander, of Moorefield, Hardy county, Va. I have not been able to trace the career of Ned Alexander.

25. James M. Garnett, of Hanover county, Va., later Second Lieutenant, C. S. A., and Chief of Ordnance of the Valley District; first Lieutenant, P. A. C. S., and Ordnance Officer of the “Stonewall Brigade,” and Acting Ordnance Officer of Jackson’s Division; Captain in charge of General Reserve Ordnance Train, A. N. Va., and lastly Ordnance Officer of Rodes’s (later Grimes’s) Division, 2d Corps, A. N. Va.; now (1900) teaching in Baltimore, Md.





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








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