Correspondent Peter Wellington Alexander On His Arrival at Manassas

25 09 2013

Our Correspondent Arrives at Manassas

Army of the Potomac,

Manassas Junction, July 20, 1861

I arrived here late this afternoon, having left Richmond early this morning and been on the road nearly the whole day. The use of the road for the past few days has been surrendered up almost entirely to the military authorities, and so great is the demand for transportation by the War Department, that it is with difficulty that the trains can manage to get through under less than ten to twelve hours.

As the great battle of the campaign will, in all probability, have been fought and decided before this reaches you, it will not be amiss, especially since the fact is already known to the enemy, to say that General Johnston has arrived here from Winchester with the greater part of his forces recently stationed at that place. What is the precise number of the troops brought with him, I am unable to say. Some of them are still on the road, and are expected to get in some time to-night. Among those who reached here to-day, were the 7th, 9th, and 11th Georgia Regiments, under Colonel Bartow, Gartrell, and Goulding, the brigade under the command of Col. Bartow. I have not been able to see any one who is attached to the brigade, owing to the lateness of the hour at which I arrived, but I learn that all three of the regiments were, immediately upon their arrival, ordered forward to an advanced position upon Bull’s Run, near Union Mills, where the Alexandria & Manassas Railroad crosses the creek. That they will give a good account of themselves in the great battle that is impending, you may feel perfectly assured.

Gen. Johnston ranks Gen. Beauregard, and consequently he will succeed to the command, at least nominally, in the approaching conflict. This seems to have occasioned some regret among the troops who have been stationed here, since Gen. Beauregard has had all the labor of arranging the camp, perfecting the works and preparing the ground for what we all believe will be a great victory. It would be impossible, however, for any officer to supersede him in fact, though he may be outranked under the rules of the War Department. Whatever may be the result, therefore, to “little Beaury” will belong the honor, now and hereafter.

In addition to the forces brought down by Gen. Johnston, I learn that 2,300 men arrived here this morning from Aquia Creek under command of Brig. Gen. Holmes. They marched across the country a distance of 30 miles since yesterday morning. This force is composed chiefly of Tennesseeans, with some companies from Arkansas. The men are said to look very much as if they would not ask for more than one bite at a Yankee.

It is generally conceded that Patterson has moved down the Potomac from Martinsburg to the relief of Gen. McDowell, and that he took with him his entire force. The number of the enemy now before us cannot be less than 75,000. That Gen. Scott will risk such an army in the hands of either McDowell or Patterson, or both of them, is not believed for one moment. When the great contest does take place, he will take the command of the Federal forces himself. If he does not, it will be because he expects defeat. Our own forces are believed to be at least a third less than those which are arrayed against us.

The impression prevails here that there will be a grand battle to-morrow, and that we will be the attacking party this time. I have been here too short a time to venture and opinion myself, but I should not be surprised if, in the next few days, we did not witness a series of active operations, culminating by or before the middle of next week in a pitched battle, in which all the forces on both sides will be engaged.

I have said nothing so far of the Battle of Bull’s Run, for the reason that you will find, in the Richmond papers this morning, and especially the Examiner, a better account of it than I could possibly give you. A few facts may be mentioned, however, that will not fail to interest your readers. The first is, that the battle was opened by Sherman’s famous battery, under the protection of whose fire the enemy’s infantry advanced upon our lines. Nearly all the shells passed over our men and exploded beyond them. Not so with the New Orleans Washington Artillery which was opposed to Sherman’s Battery, and whose guns did horrible execution. Indeed, it is believed that but for the precision and destructiveness of their fire, the enemy would have approached nearer and in greater numbers, and that our victory would have been greater than it was. The Federal battery changed its position fifteen times during the engagement, and at last left the field minus one of its guns which we captured, together with 501 small arms.

Soon after getting here, I encountered a little drummer boy of fourteen summers from Lynchburg., who says he went over the field soon after the battle with the hope of getting a little revolver. He examined the pockets of a score or more of the dead without finding a solitary “red,” his only trophy being an odd looking dirk with a buckhorn handle and a due bill for seven dollars from one Dutchman to another.

Another lad, a marker for the Alexandria Rifles, appearing upon the field, was ordered to the hospital by his Captain as a place of safety. The little fellow was not pleased with the order, though he obeyed it, but when the battle began to wax warm, he stole back and seizing the gun of a disabled soldier he succeeded in killing one Hessian and wounding the second.

Some of the officers have furnished their servants with revolvers, and it is asserted to be a fact that these negroes made several captures during the fight on Thursday. One of them, Dick Langhorn, from Lynchburg; a strapping fellow, shot down one man, his ball taking effect through the shoulder; and when all his barrels had been discharged, he rushed upon another whom he knocked down with  his pistol. Seizing the two by the collars, he started to carry them to his master, when one of them showed a disposition to resist; whereupon Dick turned to him and said: “See here, Massa, you’d better come ‘long, or dis here nigger will hurt you, see ef he don’t.” Seeing the d—l in Dick’s eye, he submitted, and the two were carried prisoners to the Colonel of the Regiment, the Eleventh Virginia.

Hampton’s Legion and the 13th Mississippi Regiment have just arrived, and the 11th Mississippi is expected some time to-night. A few days would increase our forces materially. North Carolina is sending up some of the finest regiments I have seen, and about three a week.

P. W. A.

Savannah Republican, 7/26/1861

William B. Styple, Ed., Writing and Fighting the Confederate War: The Letters of Peter Wellington Alexander Confederate War Correspondent, pp 18-19





The Washington Artillery at Blackburn’s Ford

14 10 2011

The Battle at Bull Run.
Special Correspondence of The Delta.
Richmond July 20th; 1861.

The battle of Bull Run was fought day before yesterday, and our Artillery were engaged from 2, O’clock in the afternoon until 5, P. M. At half past four Captain Eschelman was wounded in the lower portion of the calf of the leg. A musket ball passed through the muscle, making a very ragged wound, and was up to last night very painful, attended with some fever. To-day, 12, M. I have just left him, and he said he had been since daybreak comparatively free from pain, and felt quite well. He will soon recover, and it is hoped will suffer but little from this time.

He is very well situated, at Dr. Deane’s residence, having been brought here last evening, with all the Artillery men that were wounded.

Muse, of Muse Bros., who died last night, was struck near the shoulder. Henry H. Baker has a ball in the calf of the leg. A young man, whose brother is a partner of Hagerty & Bros., had a ball through the flesh of the thigh, and one other a cut in the face. All are doing well and will recover very soon.

Walton, Slocomb, and two companies of the command were stationed three miles off, where it was supposed the enemy would make the attack, and saw nothing of the fight, and consequently were all safe. Captain Garnett, of this State, and Captain Eschelman wee in command of the seven guns we had in service, and raked the enemy down like grass, especially at the  first fire; knocked one of Sherman’s guns into fragments, and sent some four shot directly into their solid advanced column, driving limbs and bodies sky high. Sherman’s great battery at 5, O’clock was silenced, and commenced their retreat. Our boys gave them a parting shot and then a tremendous yell which finished the fight.

None of the Artillery men were hurt until just before the battle ended, ,so that all had a fair chance that commenced the fight to show indomitable courage and coolness. The enemy had engaged in the battle from 5,000 to 6,000 men and we had 3,000. Our wounded and dead 60, theirs over 500. Drs. Drew, Choppin, Beard, and several others from the different regiments, were on the ground. Beauregard commanded in person on the field, being mounted, of course.

The Daily Delta, 7/27/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 111, pp. 46-47.





New Stuff on Louisiana at Bull Run Coming…

3 04 2011

Back on March 26 I received an email from reader Griff Bartlett. He had a letter from his great-grandfather, a member of the Washington Artillery at Bull Run, to his brother-in-law. The letter describes the fighting at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18, and was printed in the New Orleans Sunday Delta on July 28, 1861,

Mr. Bartlett included his source for the letter, two typewritten pages numbered 52 & 53. I wanted to at least get the publication info on the book to include in my citation for the letter. Griff wrote back that the images were all he had, and that he had acquired them from the library at the Jackson Barracks in Louisiana. So I checked into things on the internet and found a phone number. After a couple calls I was put in touch with Richard Holloway, archivist for the Louisiana National Guard at Camp Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana. I described the images to him (and later forwarded them) and he immediately recognized them as part of a set of Works Progress Administration (WPA) volumes that collected and transcribed LA newspaper accounts of LA military units and events from the 1700s up to the 1920s.

So far Mr. Holloway has sent me 30 pages of Bull Run related items from one of the volumes. He has yet to locate the volume containing the two pages provided by Mr. Bartlett, but there was some damage to the library collection as a result of Hurricane Katrina and the volume may have been temporarily misplaced (the collection did undergo extensive preservation and restoration efforts). Mr. Holloway has indicated that there is plenty more where these 30 pages came from.

The long and short of it: this is a great news for Bull Runnings. I’ll have plenty of Louisiana primary accounts to put into the Bull Run Resources section of this site, thanks to Mr. Bartlett and Mr. Holloway.








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