“H*****,” Co. K, 18th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

19 07 2020

The Charlotte Rifles.

To the Editors of the Richmond Dispatch: – As an answer to the various inquiries of our numerous relatives and friends in Charlotte, concerning the part Capt. T. J. Spencer’s Rifle Company took in the recent engagement upon Bull Run, I propose as briefly as possible to give the desired information through the medium of your interesting columns. Some have erroneously supposed that we were at Mitchel’s Ford on Thursday, the 18th. We were not in any action until Sunday, the 21st. Early in the morning of that memorable day, we were stationed upon the road leading to Lewis’ Ford, which we had been guarding with a sleepless vigilance for several days. While standing here with the other companies of our regiment, arranged around at various points for the defence of the ford, our Captain took the first prisoner taken that day – He was a spy belonging to an Ohio regiment. He had unconsciously straggled into the lines of our men. When it became evident that the enemy did not design to cross the ford in that direction, we were deployed as skirmishers to prevent them from planting a battery in an open field upon and elevated point that commanded a full view of the opposite side of the stream – Here we remained for 3 or 4 hours, listening to the heavy thunderings of the artillery, the incessant roar of the musketry, and awful cries of the wounded – intermingled alternatively with the hearty cheers of the enemy and the vociferous applause of our soldiery as the tide of the battle would change from one side to the other. Having been withdrawn from our position and drawn up in battle array on the opposite side of the stream, we received orders to go forward to battle. In our advance we were exposed to the enemy’s shell and ball for more than a mile before we entered the battle-field. We advanced under the most discouraging circumstances. We met remnants of other regiments in retreat, saying that their companies had been cut to pieces and that the day was well-nigh lost. The wounded also were brought out in full view of our line. – The first appalling sight that met our vision was a wounded soldier with his left arm and a part of his left side entirely torn off rom his body. Wounds of various kinds presented themselves to our view. Strange to say, the only encouragement we received was from some poor wounded soldiers, who as they were being carried off the field waved their hands toward the scene of conflict. After marching through a body of thick pines, our company being situated upon the extreme left wing of the regiment, happened to fall suddenly upon a halfscore or more of New York Zouaves. We took a captain and several others as prisoners, and killed all the rest – They had on red pantaloons and a blue fatigue shirt. It was by the bullet of one of those desperadoes that Mr. Jas. Thomas, a worthy member of our company, lost his life.

Owing to various impediments on our route, our lines were thrown somewhat into confusion; but the regiment was soon arranged again, drawn up in full battle array in full view of the enemy. We were held here as mere spectators, awaiting further orders, and exposed, in the meanwhile, to a continual shower of the enemy’s bullets. When the command was given to advance, the whole regiment went in double-quick time, cheering and firing as they ran; meanwhile the flags of the Southern Confederacy were seen right and left, advancing over every hill. The enemy’s battery had been taken, and it became the province of our regiment to hold it. We met with but little resistance. The Charlotte Rifles, with the aid of Adjutant Hill, of North Carolina, had the honor of turning the famous Sherman’s battery around, and firing it upon the owners. When the Northern vandals perceived that the invincible columns of the Southern Confederacy were coming against them in and irresistible tide, and that their own guns were turned against them, they set their faces towards the land of their birth, resolving as no doubt many of them did, never to set foot again upon Virginian soil.


Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/3/1861

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