#82f – Capt. John D. Imboden

30 12 2008

Supplemental Report

Report of Captain John D. Imboden of the “Staunton Artillery”


Manassas Junction, Virginia

July 22, 1861

I submit the following summary report of the part taken in the engagement of yesterday, by the battery of the brigade – the Staunton Artillery – under my command.  The battery arrived at Camp Walker, below the Junction, at 11.30 o’clock the night before the battle, with men and horses greatly fatigued by a forced march of thirty-two miles, commenced at daybreak over an extremely rough and steep, hilly road.  Having had but four hours’ sleep, and that on the ground without shelter, on a rainy night, since the preceding Wednesday night at Winchester, and no food on Saturday except breakfast, which was kindly furnished us by some ladies at Salem, in Fauquier, my men were so tired on getting into camp that they threw themselves upon the ground to snatch a few hours’ rest.

A little after sunrise on Sunday morning, the lamented General Bee sent for me to his quarters, and informed me of the approach of the enemy, and that he was ordered to “the stone bridge” with his brigade and a battery, not so much exhausted as mine, and asked me if we would “stand that?”  I replied, “Not if we can help it.”  He then ordered me to put the battery in motion immediately, and let my wagons remain, and bring our rations and forage after us to the field.  In about twenty minutes we were in motion, very much stimulated by a cannonade which had been opened so near Camp Walker that one of the balls came whizzing over us just as we started.  After a rapid march of about five miles we met the infantry of the brigade, who had gone by a nearer route.  General Bee, in person, then joined the battery, and rode with us about a mile and selected the ground we were to occupy, remaining till after the firing commenced on both sides.  To his consummate judgment in choosing our ground, we are indebted for our almost miraculous escape from utter destruction.  We were placed on the slope of a hill facing to the West, with a slight depression or ravine, running almost parallel with the base of the hill.  We came “into battery” and unlimbered in this depression, being thus sheltered by a swell in the ground to our front five or six feet high.  Our position commanded a beautiful open farm, which rose gently from the valley in front of us, back to the woods about 1,500 yards distant.  In the edge of these woods a heavy column of the enemy was marching to the southward, while we were descending the hill to our position.  At the moment we wheeled into line, I observed one of their batteries of six guns do the same thing, and they unlimbered simultaneously with us.  We immediately loaded with spherical-case shot, with the fuze cut for 1,500 yards.  General Bee ordered me not to fire till they opened on me, as he had sent the Fourth Alabama Regiment, Colonel Jones, across the valley to our right to occupy a piece of woods about 500 yards nearer to the enemy, and he wished this regiment, together with one 6-pounder they had along with them, to get fairly into position before we fired.  He had hardly uttered the order, however, when the enemy’s battery – six long-rifle 10-pounder Parrott guns, afterwards captured by our troops – within 150 yards of our first position, opened on us with elongated cylindrical shells.  They passed a few feet over our heads, and very near the General and his staff in our rear, and exploded near the top of the hill.  We instantly returned the compliment.  General Bee then directed me to hold my position till further orders and observe the enemy’s movements towards our left, and report to him anything I might discover of importance.  This was the last time my gallant, heroic General ever spoke to me.  Seeing us fairly engaged, he rode off to take charge of his regiments.  The firing of both batteries now became very rapid – they at first over-shot us and burst their shells to our rear, but at every round improved their aim and shortened their fuze.  In about fifteen minutes we received our first injury.  A shell passed between two of our guns and exploded amongst the caissons, mangling the arm of Private J. J. Points with a fragment in a most shocking manner.  I ordered him to be carried off the field to the surgeon at once.  He was scarcely gone when another shell exploded at the same place and killed a horse.  About this time the enemy began to fire too low, striking the knoll in our front, from ten to twenty steps, from which the ricochet was sufficient to carry the projectiles over us; they discovered this, and again began to fire over us.  After we had been engaged for perhaps a half hour, the enemy brought another battery of four guns into position about 400 yards south of the first, and a little nearer to us, and commenced a very brisk fire upon us.  A shell from this last battery soon plunged into our midst, instantly killing a horse and nearly cutting off the leg of Private W. A. Siders, just below the knee.  He was immediately taken to the surgeon.  A few minutes afterwards another shell did its work by wounding 2nd Lieut. A. W. Garber so severely in the wrist that I ordered him off the field for surgical aid.  We now had ten guns at work upon us, with no artillery to aid us for more than an hour except, I believe, three rounds fired by the gun with the Alabama Regiment.  It ceased fire, I have heard, because the horses ran off with the limber and left the gun without ammunition.  During this time the enemy’s infantry was assembling behind, between and to the right (our left) of their battery in immense numbers, but beyond our reach, as we could only see their bayonets over the top of the hill.  Two or three times they ventured in sight when the Alabamians turned them back on their left by a well-directed fire, and we gave them a few shot and shells on their right with the same result, as they invariably dropped back over the hill when we fired at them, as almost every shot made a gap in their ranks.

After we had been engaged for, I suppose, nearly two hours, a detachement of some other battery (the New Orleans Washington Battalion, I believe,) of two guns, formed upon our right and commenced a well-directed fire, much to our aid and relief.  My men by this time were so overcomewith the intense heat and excessive labor, that half of them fell upon the ground completely exhausted.  The guns were so hot that it was dangerous to load them – one was temporarily spiked by the priming wire hanging out of it, the vent having become foul.  My teams were cut to pieces, five of the horses were killed out of one single piece, and other teams partially destroyed, so that, alone, we could not much longerhave replied to the enemy’s batteries as briskly as was necessary.

We were now serving the guns with diminished numbers – Lieuts. Harman and Imboden working at them as privates; the latter had the handspike in his hand directing his piece, when one of the rings was shot off the trail by a piece of a shell.  After our friends on the right commenced firing, the enemy advanced a third battery of four pieces down the hill, directly in front of and about six hundred yards distant from us, upon which we opened fire immediately and crippled one of their guns by cutting off its trail, compelling them to dismount and send the piece away without its carriage.  While this last battery was forming in our front, a vast column of thousands of infantry marched down in close order, about two hundred yards to its right.  I did not then know where the several regiments of our brigade were posted.  We heard firing upon our right and left, but too far off to protect us from a sudden charge, as we were in the middle of an open field, and not a single company of infantry visible to us on the right, left or rear.  At the moment the enemy’s main column came down the hill, we observed the head of another column advancing down the valley from our left, and therefore concealed by a hill, and not over 350 or 400 yards distant.  At first I took them for friends and ordered the men not to fire on them.  To ascertain certainly who they were, I sprang upon my horse and galloped to the top of the hill to our left, when I had a nearer and better view.  There were two regiments of them.  They halted about three hundred yards in front of their own battery on the hill-side, wheeled into line, with their backs towards us, and fired a volley, apparently at their battery.  This deceived me, and I shouted to my men to fire upon the battery, that these were friends who would charge and take it in a moment.  Fortunately, my order was not heard, or not obeyed by all the gunners, for some of them commenced firing into this line, which brought them to the right-about, and they commenced advancing towards us, when their uniform disclosed fully their character.  I instantly ordered the second section of my battery to limber up and come on the hill where I was, intending to open upon them with canister.  Anticipating this movement, and intending to make the hill to the left too hot for us, or seeing me out there alone, where I could observe their movements and report them, their nearest battery directed and fired all its guns at me at once but without hitting me or my horse.  I galloped back to my guns, and found that the two guns on our right had left the field, and we were alone again.  My order to limber up the second section was understood as applying to the whole battery, so that the drivers had equalled the teams sufficiently to move all the guns and caissons, and the pieces were all limbered.  On riding back a short distance, where I could see over the hill again, I discovered the enemy approaching rapidly, and so near that I doubted our ability to save the battery; but by a very rapid movement up the ravine, we avoided the shells of the three batteries that were now directed at us, sufficient to escape with three guns and all the caissons.  The fourth gun, I think, was struck under the axle by an exploding shell, as it broke right in the middle and dropped the gun in the field.  We saved the team.  Their advance fired a volley of musketry at us, without effect, when we got over the hill out of their reach, and a few moments afterwards heard the infantry engage them from the woods some distance to the south of us.  Seeing no troops where we first crossed the hill amongst whom we could fall in with and prepare for the battle again, and having had no communication with or from any human being for, I suppose, three hours, and not knowing where to find our brigade or any part of it, I determined to retire to the next hill, some 400 yards distant, and there form the remnant of my battery, and await the opportunity for further service.

Just as we were ascending this second hill we met General T. J. Jackson with the First Virginia Brigade, hastening on to the field of battle.  I reported to him my condition and perplexity.  He directed me to fall in between two of his regiments and return to the first hill again and fight with him.  I did so with a remnant of my men and guns.  The caissons, except one, were empty, and many of the men were ready to faint from sheer exhaustion.  We got into position 300 or 400 yards north of the ground we at first occupied, within full view of the enemy’s heavy column of divisions advancing towards us.  We opened fire at once, but slowly, as we had not over four or five men left able to work the guns, respectively, and ammunition had to be brought from a caisson, left two hundred yards in the rear because we were unable to get it up with the guns.  Every shot here told with terrible effect, as we could see a lane opened through the enemy after almost every fire.  Our first gun was worked, during this part of the action, by the Captain, First Lieutenant, and two privates.  In the course of three-quarters of an hour, our supply of shot and shells was exhausted – the men could no longer work – we had nothing but some canister left, which was useless at so great a distance.  A fresh battery came upon the field, and General Jackson ordered me to retire with my men and guns to a place of safety, which I did, and had no further part in the fight.

We were the first battery of the left wing of the army engaged.  We were in the fight till near its close, having been engaged altogether upwards of four hours.  We fired about 460 rounds of ball and case-shot, our whole supply, during the action.  The only serious damage to my men I have mentioned above.  Privates Points and Siders will doubtless get well, but will lose their wounded limbs.  Lieut. Garber may save his hand.

Several others were slightly touched with fragments of shells without injury.  I had 71 horses on Sunday morning, before the battle commenced; 10 of those are killed and missing, and 21 more variously injured and at present wholly unserviceable, leaving me but 40 horses fit for work.  My harness is half destroyed and lost.  One piece is dismounted, but will be as good as ever when remounted on a new carriage.  All my officers behaved throughout with heroic coolness and bravery, and the conduct of the men was that of veterans.

No company in the army was more exposed, and none, I believe, so long a time, and yet no man quailed.  There were instances of individual heroism worthy of special notice; but where all did so well, it would seem almost invidious to single out individuals.

Respectfully submitted,

J. D. Imboden,

Captain, Battery, Third Brigade, C. S. A.

Brigadier-General W. H. C. Whiting,

Commanding, Third Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah

[An abridgement of this report appeared in the Charleston Daily Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, July 29, 1861.  That article appears in the Supplement to the Official Records, Vol. I, Addendum to Series 1, Vol 2, pp. 174-179]

#82e – Capt. Thomas J. Goldsby

28 12 2008

Supplemental Report

Report of Captain Thomas J. Goldsby, Fourth Alabama


Headquarters, Fourth Alabama Regiment

Camp Bee, near Manassas, [Virginia]

July 29, 1861

Sir: In obedience to your order of July 26, I submit the following report of the operations of the regiment, immediately preceding and during the battle of July 21.

In the evening of Thursday, July 18, we left our camp near Winchester, and started upon a forced march, across the Blue Ridge, en route for Manassas.  We marched all that night and the next day, arriving at Piedmont after nightfall on July 19.  At that point we took the cars and arrived at Manassas Junction about 9 o’clock on Saturday, July 20.  Our tents were left at Winchester, and the supply of food was scant and insufficient.  The men arrived at Camp Walker about ten o’clock a. m. on Saturday, hungry and much exhausted by the exposure and fatigue.

We bivouacked that day and night, obtaining some food which, with some rest, much refreshed and strengthened the men.

On Sunday, July 21, immediately after breakfast, we received the order to “fall in” with knapsacks and arms and take up the line of march towards where the fire of the enemy first opened.  After marching in that direction some three or four miles – most of the distance in double-quick time – our direction was suddenly changed towards the left of our line of battle, to which we marched a distance of some two miles, in quick and double-quick time.  The day was exceedingly hot, and the supply of water being small, the men arrived on the battlefield much exhausted.

I suppose it was about 9 o’clock a. m., when we reached a skirt of woods about 250 or 300 yards from the enemy’s line, when we halted and formed in line of battle.  The enemy were right in front of us in overpowering numbers – Sherman’s Battery fully commanding our position, supported by immense bodies of infantry. 

Hardly had we halted and formed before the order came to advance, which we did in double-quick, through the open field to within 100 yards of the enemy’s line, where we were commanded to “halt and lie down.”

The left of our regiment was in the cornfield, and the right in the open field.  The fire at once became general – our men rising to fire and lying down to load.

Our advance was covered by one piece of artillery, the fire of which did much to divert the attention of the enemy from our advance movements.  Even in that our of peril we could not fail to admitre the accuracy and effect of its aim.  Unfortunately, after three rounds, the horses attached to the caisson became frightened and ran off, leaving the piece without ammunition and leaving us unprotected by artillery, except in so far that the gallant [John Daniel] Imboden was permitted, by the heavy fire in his front, to yield us occasional shots.  Although they could come but seldom, when they did come we recognized in them the booming “God cheer” of Virginia to Alabama.

For an hour and a half the Fourth Alabama sustained the most galling and destructive fire.  Our brave men fell in great numbers, but they died as the brave love to die – with faces to the foe, fighting in the holy cause of liberty.  Of course, it is impossible for me to say how many were opposed to us.  I only judge, from the incessant and tremendous fire that was kept up, that we were greatly outnumbered.

The force intended for our support on the right and left having been withdrawn for three-quarters of an hour, alone and unaided, except by Imboden’s Battery, we held our position, driving back on three separate occasions the advancing columns of the enemy and enabling reinforcements to come up.  At last, outflanked on the right and left and exposed to fire from three sides, we were ordered to fall back.

Our gallant Colonel [Egbert J.] Jones, who, during the hottest of the engagement, sat conspicuously on his horse – as calm as a statue – giving orders as they came, fell severely wounded in this movement.

We retired in good order through the woods on our left and, descending a hill, again formed in line of battle on a branch which runs through the ravine.  On our right, as we descended the hill, we observed two regiments drawn up in close column in line of battle.  These, being one-quarter of a mile behind the position which we had just left and where we expected to find reinforcements, we confidently regarded by us as friends.  They returned our signal, and we were on the point of forming behind them, when, as we unfurled our flag, they opened a murderous fire upon our ranks, killing some and wounding many, among the latter, Lieutenant-Colonel [Evander M.] Law and Major [Charles L.] Scott, both of whom had displayed great gallantry and done much to inspire us by their example.

Left, thus, without field officers and almost surrounded by the enemy, we again fell back, after returning in kind and with effect the compliments of our supposed friends through a pine wood to an open field, where we halted and awaited orders.  The thirst of the men was intense and almost intolerable.

At this place, a half mile behind our original position, amid the bursting of shells and the rattling storm of musketry, our heroic General [Barnard Elliott] Bee rode up to the regiment and inquired what body of troops we were.  Being told that “it was what remained of the Fourth Alabama,” he replied, with an expressive gesture, “This is all of my brigade that I can find – will you follow me back to where the firing is going on?”  “To the death,” was the response, whereupon he put himself on the left of our line and marched us by the left flank to where the fight was raging around Sherman’s Battery.

As we were nearing the scene, a train of artillery that was falling back cut our line, thus separating the left company from the rest of the regiment.  This company, with our General at its head, obliqued to the right, upon the open field, when our gallant and beloved commander fell, mortally wounded.  The rest of the regiment, not seeing the direction which the head of the column had taken, marched straight forward through the wood, exposed at every step to a galling fire.

Deprived, as we then were, of our Brigadier-General, of our Colonel, of our Lieutenant-Colonel and Major, not knowing our friends from our enemies, and exposed to a murderous fire, with no opportunity of returning it, we marched back, reformed our line, and awaited orders.

We remained on the field until the battle closed, with ranks thinned, it is true, but yet always with a perfect organization.

The regiment was exposed to heavy fire for seven or eight hours, and during the whole time, and particularly during that portion of it when they were actually engaged, the officers and men exhibited the most admirable coolness and gallantry.

I cannot refrain from mentioning the gallant conduct of Major Howard, the aide-de-camp of General Bee.  He was ever where the fire was the hottest, and though wounded, remained on the field until the close of the action.

Such, Sir, is a succinct account of the operations of this regiment, called for by your order.

The list of the killed and wounded, hereto appended, will testify that the regiment did not shrink from sealing with its best blood its devotion to the cause.

We rejoice at the glorious victory which was won on that ever memorable field, but over our exultation there is thrown the pall of private sadness by the death and wounding of those we love.

It would be invidious, if it were possible, to enumerate individual acts of heroism, where every man did his duty.

Captain Goldsby,

Commanding Regiment

General Whiting,

Commanding Third Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah

[Daily Dispatch, newspaper, Richmond, Virginia, August 17, 1861]

More Official Reports

22 12 2008

suppToday I received in the mail a most welcome care package from e-quaintance Jonathan Soffe of  the UK and www.firstbullrun.com.  Jon was kind enough to send me the Bull Run reports from the Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, only one of which I had.  These include reports from Rob Wheat of the 1st Special Louisiana Battalion and Thomas Goldsby of the 4th Alabama Infantry.  I’ll be transcribing  and posting these reports over the next few weeks.

Thanks Jon!

Lincoln President-Elect

19 12 2008

I just finished the latest from Harold Holzer.  All in all, a well written book, easy to read, with lots of stuff I did not know.  Great background on the evolution of the First Inaugural Address.  Lots of anecdotes.  But no bibliography, and sometimes the analysis is lacking.  For instance, on page 458 (emphasis mine):

“And then, despite a giant step backward at Baltimore that might have crippled less agile leaders, he had recaptured public confidence while harmonizing a balanced and brilliant cabinet.”

lincoln-president-electI’m a big, big Lincoln fan – I’ll be buying Burlingame’s new doorstop unless someone gives it to me – but some things I don’t get.  I’m not one of those who think Lincoln possessed exemplary management skills – I’ve worked for people who managed like him, and they were without a doubt the worst bosses imaginable.  Maybe that’s just a matter of taste (I doubt it), but my thoughts on this evolved over time until I said yeah, Abe did not have mad management skills.  But this image of Lincoln’s cabinet being a dream team has never made sense to me.  Now, if Holzer is saying that AL did a great job with his cabinet selections politically, I’d agree.  His primary purpose was obviously to pay the debts incurred on his way to the White House.  But practically speaking, I find it hard to argue that the best people were put in the jobs for which they were most suited.  Welles was a newspaper editor – many might say his job was keeping his diary, and Gustavas Fox actually ran the Navy Dept.  Blair was the son of a newspaper editor.  Chase would prove a thorn in the side of the administration until his departure.  Cameron?  CAMERON???  Perhaps I misapprehend the meanings of harmony and brilliance.

I think this is another case of  repeating something until it  becomes truth. 

As for the book, it’s worth the read despite what I consider flaws in logic and many, many typos.  It has some real gems.  But for a better analysis of Lincoln during this period, I recommend McClintock’s Lincoln and the Decision for War.

It looks like this will be my last ACW book for 2008, as next up is Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates.  I’ll write up something on my thoughts about this year’s reads soon.

Col. Michael Corcoran’s Account of His Capture

16 12 2008

The New York Times, August 11, 1861


The Manner Of His Capture By The Rebels.

Richmond, Va., July 29, 1861.

Dear Wife: I wrote a letter to Capt. Kirker a few days since acquainting him of my being in close confinement here, also Capt. McIvor and Lieut. Connolly, with about 37 other officers and 600 non-commissioned officers and privates from various regiments, among whom are Sergeants Murphy and Donnohue and 35 privates of my regiment.  They are all in good health.  I was very ill for the first two days after my arrest, but feel quite well at present.  I am deeply affected at the loss of Acting Lieut. Col. Haggerty, who was among the first who fell on the battlefield, and also several of my brave soldiers.  It is, however, consoling that they attender their religious duties before that day.  I had many hair-breadth escapes, but God in His infinite mercy has been pleased to preserve me.

I am uneasy to know the fate of many officers and members whom I had not seen in line immediately after the battle, among them are Capts. Thomas Francis Meagher and Cavanaugh, and Acting-Adjutant (late Captain) John H. Nugent.  My regiment came off the field in admirable order, and were on the road to Centreville, where I halted to rest and await orders for future action, knowing that our artillery would need protection in returning.  Two regiments that had not been in line and were returning in disorder, hung on my flank, and when the cavalry were seen advancing toward us, these regiments broke precipitately through my lines, throwing us into disorder, and caused a general flight.

I dismounted and crossed a rail fence, over which they had gone, and got the color bearer to halt, and called on the men to rally around the flag, but just at this moment a discharge of carbines from the pursuing cavalry and our own artillery drowned my voice, and destroyed all my efforts to muster the men.  I had only nine men who heard me an halted, and those, with two officers and myself, were immediately surrounded and taken to Manassas that night.  We left there the following morning, and arrived here Tuesday night.  Lieuts. Bagley and Gannon, with two Colonels, one Lieutenant-Colonel and other officers and privates of various regiments, arrived here this morning.  Some of our wounded have also been brought here, but I have not yet learned their names.  Give my love to your [?], William, Capt. Kirker and all friends.

Your affectionate husband,

Michael Corcoran

The New York Times, August 12, 1861


Another Letter From Col. Corcoran

Richmond, Va., July 24, 1861.

Capt. James B. Kirker:

My Dear Captain – I know you will regret to hear of my being here a prisoner of war.  The circumstances connected with the affair are easily told.  My regiment was twice engaged during that hard contested fight on the 21st utl., and left the field with the thanks of Gen. McDowell for their services.  I brought them off in admirable order, having formed a square, to defend against the cavalry who were advancing.  I moved in the square until reaching a wood, having to pass through a defile, and over very broken ground.  I had to march by a flank until I reached the road, where we got mixed up with two other regiments, who were retiring in disorder.  I soon ordered a halt to connect our line, and scarcely had the command been given, when the cavalry of the enemy, were seen advancing, and immediately the other regiments went over the rail fence into the field, and mine with them.  I dismounted (my horse being wounded) and followed into the field, took the colors and called out to rally around it.  My voice was drowned amid the roar of the cavalry carbines and the discharge of artillery; consequently only two officers, Capt. McIver and Lieut. Connolly, with nine privates, were all I had.  This delay caused our arrest.  The cavalry surrounded us at a small house which I was about to use as a means of defence, and made prisoners of my gallant little band.  Many others were made prisoners in the same field and immediate vicinity, who had fallen down from exhaustion, making a total of prisoners from the Sixty-ninth of thirty-seven, who are all here, and a list of whom I send that you may publish for the information of their friends.

We lost many a brave and manly spirit on that day, which fills me with the deepest sorrow.  My beloved acting Lieutenant-Colonel – Haggerty –  was the first who fell; and I am fearful about Capt. Meagher, who acted as major, as I have not seen him since the fight, nor any person who could give me any information.  My imprisonment is deeply embittered from the want of knowledge of the fate of my beloved soldiers since my last sight of them.

There are about forty officers here, amongst whom are Capts. Manson and Farrish, Lieut. Irwin, John Whyte; Ives and Campbell, of the Seventy-ninth; Lieut. Gordon, Second United States Dragoons; Drs. Powers and Connolly, of the Second; Drs. Norval and McKletchy, of the Seventy-ninth; Lieut. Goodenough, of the Fourteenth Regiment, of Brookly, and Capt. Griffin, of the Eighth New-York.

There are about six hundred prisoners in this building belonging to different regiments – the Second, Eighth and Seventy-first, New-York, and Fire Zouaves.  I send you some lists; publish them for the benefit of their friends.  Give my love to Mrs. Corcoran and all friends, and believe me your sincere and affectionate friend,

Michael Corcoran

Colonel Sixty-ninth N.Y.S.M.

List of Names  

  • Captain, James M’Iver.
  • Lieutenant, Edmund Connolly.
  • Color Sergeant, John Murphy.
  • Sergeant, Wm. O’Donohue, Company K.


  • James Kane, Co. K.
  • Daniel Cassidy, Co. K.
  • Patrick Dunn, Eng. corps.
  • John Cottow, Eng. corps.
  • Thos. McGuire, Eng. corps.
  • Jas. Gaynor, Eng. corps.
  • Edw. Sweeney, Eng. corps.
  • Jer’h. Castigan, Co. D.
  • R. H. Fitchett, Co. E.
  • James McNulty, Co. F.
  • Stephen Conner, Co. G.
  • James McRorty, Co. G.
  • Thomas Dunbar, Co. G.
  • John Gaffney, Co. A.
  • Thomas Brown, Co. A.
  • Wm. Moore, Co. B.
  • John Kerr, Co. B.
  • James McGinnis, Co. B.
  • John Nugent, Co. B.
  • Wm. Joyce, Co. B.
  • John McNeil, Co. B.
  • Maurice D. Walsh, Co. B.
  • Patrick Logue, Co. C.
  • Patrick Blake, Co. C.
  • Wm. Nulty, Co. C.
  • James McCarrick, Co. C.
  • Edward McGrath, Co. H.
  • Charles King, Co. H.
  • Geo. McDisney, Co. H.
  • Jer’h Sullivan, Co. H.
  • John Owens, Co. H.

Prisoners of Second Wisconsin Regiment

  • Serg’t Frank Dexter, Co. A.
  • Robert Welsh, Co. A.
  • E. C. Marsh, Company A.
  • Nathan Heath, Co. A.
  • J. M. Hawkins, Co. B.
  • S. P. Jackson, Co. B.
  • Joseph Froine, Co. B.
  • Robert Burns, Co. B.
  • —-Marshall, Co. B.
  • Henry Rhode, Co. C.
  • Thomas Brookens, Co. C.
  • A. Jones, Co. D.
  • John Hamilton, Co. D.
  • Andrew Brun, Co. D.
  • Hugh Murray, Co. D.
  • H. Stroud, Co. E.
  • Wm. Taylor, Company E.
  • Henry Weed, Co. E.
  • L. Perry, Company E.
  • Stephen Graham, Co. E.
  • Hutle Henry, Co. F.
  • David O’Brien, Co. G.
  • J. P. Christie, Co. G.
  • Serg’t. Holdridge, Co. H.
  • C. Trowbridge, Co. H.
  • Serg’t. J. Gregory, Co. J.
  • W.P. Wmith, Co. J.
  • Geo.W. Dilly, Co. J.
  • Fred Bune, Co. J.
  • S. H. Hagadorne, Co. K.

Of Light Bulbs and Switches

15 12 2008

edisonI’ve been considering books that have really impacted how I think about the American Civil War, history and I guess by extension life in general – but let’s just stick to the war and history for now.  I’ll list a few below in no particular order – this is meant as a discussion starter, so I’ll just list them.  You wanna know more – leave a comment; you wanna agree, disagree, add your own – leave a comment (except YOU have to explain yourself – it’s GOOD to be king!)  I’m not talking about “Wow, that was a great regimental/campaign study/biography” stuff.  These are books that made you go “WOW!!! I never thought of it like that”, get it?  They don’t have to be particularly well written or a joy to read, or even among your favorites.  They just must have made a big impact on the way you approach your studies.

These are in no particular order:

Col. William Smith’s Memoir of the Battle

13 12 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Force estimated at 1,300 men.

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


2,800 muskets.

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

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


Dr. Dabney estimates 2,700.

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

William Smith.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

12 12 2008

A great clip of a pretty much perfect song from a superb film, The Last Waltz.  Written by a Canadian (Robbie Robertson), but given voice by a son of the south (Levon Helm), this song by The Band nails it – however you want to defne it.

Go here for a great discussion of the song by musicians and historians.

Saw the clip on Publius.  Check out his post.

Pelham Monument

10 12 2008


Before John Pelham (left) became “Gallant”, before he gained fame – and death, in March 1863 –  at the head of JEB Stuart’s horse artillery, he was a lieutenant in Capt. E. G. Alburtis’s Wise Artillery, attached to Col. Francis Bartow’s brigade of Johnston’s Army of the Shenandoah at First Bull Run.  By all indications, Capt. Alburtis was not with the battery on the day of the battle, and it was commanded by Pelham.  He wrote about his experience at the battle in this letter.

Here’s something interesting – below is the monument to Pelham in Anniston, AL (see here for more photos of the monument).  Anniston didn’t exist until after the war, but Pelham was born and is buried in nearby Jacksonville, AL. According to this site, the monument was erected on Quintard Ave in 1905.  There appear to be lots of things in Anniston named for the Pelham family.  What makes this so interesting to me is the fact that Anniston’s founder, who named the town for his daughter-in-law, Annie – Annie’s Town – Anniston, was none other than Daniel Tyler, Federal division commander at First Bull Run, likely one of the men Pelham was shooting at that day.


UPDATE 12/11/2008: Being a slave to sounds, I was struck by the name of the street on which the Pelham monument sits.  Charles Todd Quintard was the chaplain of the First Tennessee Infantry (of which Sam Watkins’ Co. Aytch was a part), and later was Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee.  So, I sent the following to friend Sam Elliott – no, not the actor famous for his role as The Stranger in The Big Lebowski, but rather the author of Soldier of Tennessee and editor of Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee:

Quick question: Anniston, AL was founded after the war by former US BG Daniel Tyler.  There is a monument to John Pelham (from nearby Jacksonville) in Anniston, located on Quintard Ave.  Do you have any idea if this street, the “main drag” of Anniston, was named for Doctor Quintard?

To which Sam quickly replied:

To answer your question, I’ve always thought so. 

Wikipedia says of Anniston:     “In 1872, Anniston’s Woodstock Iron Company organized by Samuel Noble and Union Gen. Daniel Tyler (1799-1882), rebuilt a furnace on a much larger scale, as well as a planned community.”

According to Quintard, Noble was a “very dear friend” and, although a northerner, was with Quintard on Easter Sunday, 1865 in Columbus, Ga. when James Wilson and his 12,000 Spencer-armed Yankee cavalrymen stormed the city, and he actually secured a guard for Quintard and his family.  Quintard said Noble was in the area to secure cotton for the Federal government, which I thought was odd, since the area was still under CS control. 

Sam followed that up with this treat: 

Harry, here’s a freebie from Google on my Quintard book: 

Thanks, Sam!

Pelham’s Letter

9 12 2008

NPS historian and Civil War author extraordinaire John Hennessy stopped by to comment on the Pelham Letter.  Here’s his note:


I have always felt that Pelham’s description of his feelings in battle, and his shame at having felt as he did, was one of the more vivid revelations about the human condition as it relates to combat. Clearly his reaction to battle was not universal. Is there something about the makeup of true warriors that in the moment renders battle appealing rather than horrific? I don’t know….

Thanks for sharing this….

And here’s my response:


Yes, I found the letter striking for the same reason. I view his closing sentences as essentially a rationalization in light of what preceded them.

Thanks for stopping by – knowing you’re out there reading this stuff at least every now and again helps keep me honest!

The closing sentences to which I refer are these:

We are battling for our rights and our homes. Ours is a just war, a holy cause. The invader must meet the fate he deserves and we must meet him as becomes us, as becomes men.

What preceded them was Pelham’s description of the horrors of battle.

Any thoughts from my readers?