Unknown, Co. B (Tiger Rifles), 1st Special Louisiana Battalion, On the Battle

28 04 2020

The Tiger Rifles at Manassas.
—————

We have before us a private letter from a member of the Tiger Rifles, who were in the thickest of the fight at Stone Bridge, and rendered efficient service as one of the companies of Wheat’s Battalion:

On Sunday, 21st, at sunrise, the enemy commenced throwing shot and shell among us. Our second platoon, under command of Lieutenant Adrian, ran a party of cavalry some distance towards their lines. We were then ordered to deploy towards the left, and hold them in check for reinforcements to prevent being outflanked on our left, and here we had the honor to open the ball and receive the first fire.

As we were crossing a field in an exposed situation, we were fired upon (through mistake) by a body of South Carolinians, and at once the enemy let loose as if all hell had been let loose. Flat upon our faces we received their showers of balls; a moment’s pause, and we rose, closed in upon them with a fierce yell, clubbing our rifles and using our long knives. This hand to hand fight lasted until fresh reinforcements drive us back beyond our original position, we carrying our wounded with us. Major Wheat was here shot from his horse; Capt. White’s horse was shot under him, our First Lieutenant was wounded in the thigh, Dick Hawkins shot through the breast and wrist, and any number of killed and wounded were strewn all about. The New York Fire Zouaves, seeing our momentary confusion, gave three cheers and started for us, but it was the last shout that most of them ever gave. We covered the ground with their dead and dying, and had driven them beyond their first position, when just then we heard three cheers for the Tigers and Louisiana. The struggle was decided. The gallant Seventh has “double-quicked” it for nine miles, and came rushing into the fight. They fired as they came within point blank range, and charged with fixed bayonets. The enemy broke and fled panic-stricken, with our men in full pursuit.

When the fight and pursuit were over, we were drawn up in line and received the thanks of Gen. Johnston for what he termed our “extraordinary and desperate stand.” Gen. Beauregard sent word to Major Wheat, “you, and your battalion, for this day’s work, shall never be forgotten, whether you live or die.”

At the close of his letter the writer speaks of some of the minor casualties in the following humorous vein:

Tom Williams got his in the jaw by a spent ball, which caused him to shift his chew of tobacco to the other side; Tom Malloy got the tip of his nose chipped off by a splinter from a rail, but says he can spare the piece, as he has plenty left; Old Kelly got it through the calf of the leg, and now he growls because he can’t have the limb cut off, so that he can peddle cigars on the levee; Ben White cursed his luck because he could not get shot, and concluded he’d cut himself, but when he looked for his knife, someone had stolen it, etc.

New Orleans (LA) Daily Crescent, 8/1/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy


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