#119 – Maj. Thomas G. Rhett

15 08 2008

Troops of the Army of the Shenandoah Engaged in the Battle of Manassas

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p. 569


August 23, 1861

COLONEL: In accordance with your request I send you a list of the regiments actually in the battle of the 21st of July, 1861:

Jackson’s Brigade.–Second Regiment. Virginia Volunteers, Col. J. H. Allen commanding; Fourth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, Col. James F. Preston commanding; Fifth Regiment Virginia Volunteers Col. Kenton Harper commanding; Twenty-seventh Virginia Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Echols commanding, Colonel Gordon absent; Thirty-third Regiment Virginia Volunteers, Col. A. C. Cummings commanding.

Under General Bee, consisting of a part of his own and a part of Colonel Bartow’s brigade.–Seventh and Eighth Regiments Georgia Volunteers, Bartow’s; Second Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, Fourth Regiment Alabama Volunteers, Sixth Regiment North Carolina Volunteers, and two companies Eleventh Mississippi Volunteers, Bee’s.

E. K. Smith’s brigade.–Colonel Elzey, Tenth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, Third Regiment Tennessee Volunteers, and — Regiment Maryland Volunteers.

Batteries in action.–Colonel Pendleton’s, four pieces; Captain Imboden’s four pieces; Captain Alburtis’, four pieces; Captain Stanard’s, four pieces, and Lieutenant Beckham’s, four pieces.

Cavalry.–Col. J. E. B. Smart’s, with twelve companies.

I cannot furnish the strength of the regiments, companies, &c.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Assistant Adjutant-General


Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Corps, Army of the Potomac



3 responses

3 11 2008
Robert Moore

Harry, Are you aware of any reports or otherwise that give specifics about the capture of the guns by the 33rd Va. Infantry? I have two references that lead me to believe that Company H of the 33rd may have been credited with, more or less, the “laying-on of hands on the guns” and therefore the actual capture. Yet, there is nothing in official documents that give credit. The company was shot-up in the affair (I have a third great-granduncle who died of wounds received there) and the captain (Rippetoe) pretty much lost his ability to lead because of his reaction at the close of the fight. The men no longer had respect for him. Long story, but an interesting one. Company H served for a long time as the color company and I often wonder if it was because of First Manassas.


3 11 2008
Harry Smeltzer

Robert (or is it Bob? Let me know),

I don’t think anyone can say with certainty who “captured” Ricketts’s guns (I assume were talking about Ricketts, right?). They changed hands several times, and no regimental reports for Jackson’s brigade are in the ORs. 33rd VA, 27th VA, Billy Smith’s Battalion, 11 NY, 14th B’klyn, lots of back and forth. then there’s the question of which guns? Ricketts’s or Griffin’s? Most Rebel accounst just refer to “guns”. I admit to being thoroughly confused (to qoute the Dude onse more, “Lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous), and am leery of narratives that make the fighting on Henry House Hill sinsibly linear. I know that sounds like a cop out, but I like Detzer’s description of the fighting there best of all, efen if he doesn’t have any maps.

But to answer your question, no, I am not aware of any reports giveing credit for the final capture of Ricketts’s or Griffin’s guns.

As for which regiment, misidentified by Barry as friends, fired on Griffin’s guns, the jury is out. Some say the 33rd (MacDonald), some say Extra Billy Smith (Hennessy, though he claims that the 33rd did the capturing, after dispersing the the 11th NY and 1st MN), and Rafuse thinks a combination of the two. Detzer is I think right that “(t)he truth about what happened is likely to remain a riddle.” Unless we turn stuff up.

At UNC I found a spoeech written for the dedication of a portrait of Colonel Fisher of the 6th NC, in which the orator describes how the 6th NC saved the day by capturing the Union guns on Henry Hill. Lots of folks making claims.

If you have a document you’d like to share, I’m all (virtual) ears!!!


3 11 2008
Robert Moore

Thanks Harry. Let me see if I can come up with somethings that might be relevant to this. The way I have read my sources, clearly the back and forth (taking, losing, taking, losing… the guns) has been acknowledged, but in the end, I think it was a Richmond newspaper article that tipped me off. After that, the rest seems to fall into place/make sense, especially considering the role of the company as the regimental color company. I’ll do some checking and will get back to you.


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