Unknown, Co. A, Hampton’s Legion, On the Battle (1)

29 08 2011

Private Letters

Extract of a letter from a member of the Washington Light Infantry Volunteers

Manassas Junction, July 23, 1861

We were thirty six hours coming from Richmond without any food or sleep. Arrived at Manassas Sunday morning, swallowed a few morsels and immediately proceeded to the field of battle. Arriving there we were placed in the advance position. We saw the enemy approaching as in solid columns. As soon as they came within musket distance we gave them a volley which caused them to retreat. They again rallied, and supported by Ellsworth’s Zouaves, advanced an poured a volley of fire amongst us which was most disastrous. Johnson was then killed, and we were compelled to retreat. Beauregard then appeared amongst us, inspired us, and volunteered to lead us if we would follow. We gave him cheer after cheer. The order was then given to charge, which the men obeyed, and carried Doubleday’s batteries of six guns at the point of the bayonet.

The flower of the U. S. Army were against us. The Legion has the honor of carrying the day, and keeping 18,000 men at bay for two hours, subjected to the most galling fire of musketry, shells and cannonry. We went upon the field with six hundred and returned with three hundred.

We pursued the enemy as far as Centreville. The road along which they retreated was strewn with their dead and dying – horses, guns, ammunition, clothing, baggage, provisions, &c., literally covered the ground – fifty-three pieces of artillery captured.

I had the honor of bearing our banner, when we captured the celebrated Doubleday battery. My gun is torn up, and I escaped almost miraculously. None of the boys are hurt. Our Company lost thirty-nine killed, wounded and missing. Captain Conner behaved gallantly. I am sorry we lose him, as he now commands the legion.

Charleston Courier 8/7/1861

Clipping Image



3 responses

30 08 2011
Brian Kammerer

Doubleday’s battery? are they talking about Grifin or Ricketts’s. Could they also have confused Ellsworth’s Zouaves with the 14th Brooklyn.
After the 27th NY cleared the crossroads and withdrew under the fire of Imboden’s guns… The 14th Brooklyn and 8th NY were sent forward and advanced somewhat diagonally along the Warrenton Tnpk up to the Robinson House before being forced back by Hampton and the 7th Ga. This was prior to Keyes’s advance. Hampton and the 7th Ga defended the right flank for a crucial 45 minutes while Jackson’s arriving troops and supporting artillery took up their positions atop the Henry House hill.


30 08 2011
Harry Smeltzer

Brian: probably and possibly. Typically when Confederates report on a battery faced or captured they refer to it as Sherman’s Battery, which was probably the most famous battery in the land at this time (this was Company E 3rd US, named for T. W. Sherman, commanded at Bull Run by Romeyn Ayres and attached to W. T. Sherman’s brigade – click on “Sherman’s Battery” in the tag cloud at the lower right for more), even though Shrman’s Battery never corssed Bull Run and was not captured (they did lose a forge on the retreat). This is the first time I have read of “Doubleday’s Battery” at Bull Run. Abner Doubleday was with Patterson in the Valley at this time. It’s hard to say whether he was taling about Griffin’s or Ricketts’s guns, but it’s probably one, or the other, or both.

I believe the 14th B’Klyn and the 11th NY are interchangeable in Confederate – and even Union – reports of Zouaves at BR1, and lean more toward the 14th being the culprit in most cases. If all one had ever done was heard of Ellsworth’s Zouaves, and was presented with both the 14th and the 11th in the field, I’m sure that the former is the group that would have been thought of as Zouaves from their appearance.


31 08 2011
Brian Kammerer

Thanks Harry..I have seen in other posts the inter chageability of the 11th NY and 14th Bkln ….. I see from the latest post that the BIG GUN is Doubleday’ s. They most certainly did get amongst the Batteries of Ricketts and Griffin in the final push atop HHH ….These personal letters are wonderful and interesting in so many aspects. One surprising note is the fact that they got together and burned their letters before entering the battle. Such policies so early in the war..and we can see by the Bowie wielding Zouaves during the retreat that War is nasty business.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: