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

1 09 2011

Hampton’s Legion

The following is an extract from a letter, written by a member of Hampton’s Legion, received in this city, dated Manassas, July 23: –

“I have survived a fearful day for the Legion. We arrived in sight of the enemy just as they had forced Gen. Bee back. We were ordered to sustain a battery posted on the extreme left. We formed round a farm house on the top of a hill at the right of the field battery, and found ourselves in advance of the rest of our line, and immediately opposite to a powerful battery of the enemy stationed to the right of a thick wood which protected the infantry on his left. For half an hour we were in total uncertainty where to fire, amidst the whistling of bullets. Conner’s company and the next company on the right of the Legion made a stand bravely under a galling fire. We succeeded in rallying the rest of the men, when Gen. Bee came on the ground and ordered us to fall back on Gen. Jackson’s position.  His order to retreat carried off a large proportion of the companies. Those that remained fought nobly in the most exposed position. Col. Johnson fell near me, very soon after we got into the fight, from a ball in the head. He died instantly. His loss is irreparable to the Legion. We succeeded in maintaining our position after one or two partial retreats and rallies, and until Gen. Beauregard came on the ground and ordered us to retire to a position taken up in our rear by the artillery.

We brought off Col. Johnson’s body and the wounded, and after a little while received another order to advance to meet the enemy, who had nearly turned our left. Reinforcements came up in the midst of a struggle against fearful odds, and the battery on the left was saved.

I have nearly used up my gray horse, and find a shot grazed his fetlock.

In reply to Gen. Beauregard’s enthusiastic praises of the Legion, the President replied in his calm manner, “I knew they would fight.”

Conner and the remnant of the Legion, after the pursuit, remained near the day’s fight.

Col. Hampton, late in the day, received a bullet on the side of the temple. The wound is not dangerous, though the ball is under the skin.

We will re-form the scattered Legion to-day and play our part out. It has made its mark beyond our utmost expectation, though it has suffered severely in Col. Johnson’s death. I cannot pretend to open the volume of sensations crowded into one day. I feel quite well and fresh today and ready for another start.”

Charleston Courier  7/29/1861

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New Tag Line

1 09 2011

“Dulce Bellum Inexpertis” has been Bull Runnings’ tag line for four years now – you can find it at the top of the column over to the right. Basically it means “War is delightful to those who have never experienced it.” I explain why I use it in more detail here.

You’ll notice a new quote below it that I just posted today. It is the close to this letter printed in a Charleston paper in August 1861 and attributed to a Chaplain W. L. I. of Hampton’s Legion. The author’s identity is problematic: no one with those initials appears on any roster of the Legion (UPDATE: Reader Dave D points out that “W. L. I. ” probably stands for “Washington Light Infantry.” Doh!). But it’s a good letter nonetheless, and the quote captures the essence of what I’m trying to do here in the Resources section.

“I am sending you these little incidents as I hear them well authenticated. They form, to the friends of the parties, part of the history of the glorious 21st. More anon.”