Capt. Josephus Marion Hall, Co. A, 5th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

12 01 2022

Letter from Capt. Hall.

Near Manassas, July 29, 1861.

Dear Daffin: I received your letter several days since, but times were too hot to reply then. It was the day after the great battle – and truly it was a great battle. Those at home who prate about Yankees not fighting, should have witnessed that battle. Many of their regiments stood until we had literally cut them to pieces. They never gave back until we put the bayonet to them, then they could do as pretty running as any men you ever saw. Our men gave the New York Zouaves their especial attention. Those rascals fought until their regiment was destroyed by the Louisiana Tigers, who charged upon them with Bowie Knives. The Zouaves were astonished and stood still until the Tigers closed with them, then such cutting, hacking, yelling and screaming never was enacted this side of Bedlam. Not more than 200 escaped with sound bodies. As the Tigers closed with them they shouted, ‘Look out, Zouaves;’ which caution the latter would have done well to have heeded.

Wash. Williams was the only man of my Company in the fight. He became separated from the regiment in our retreat from Far’s Cross Roads, fell in with the 4th South Carolina Regiment, and fought from 8 o’clock until 4. He says one gets used to the whistle of bullets very soon. He fired 17 rounds and then supplied himself with cartridge from a dead Yankee’s box.

Our regiment is under Gen Ewell, whose brigade was on the right. The attack was made on the centre and left; and therefore we were not in the fight. We were intended to flank the enemy’s left and attack his rear. About 1 o’clock, we commenced the movement, marched 3 miles and reached a position entirely behind him, when we were ordered to hasten to the aid of Gen. Beauregard. – From this you can see how closely our left wing was pressed. If we could have gone on we would have captured almost the entire army, as we would have been in the rear with about 7000 fresh troops. I think we would have caught Congressmen enough at Centreville – we being on the direct road for that place – to have broken up old Abe’s Congress. All now bitterly regret the order that deprived us of such a glorious chance of hurting the Vandals with almost no danger to ourselves. We marched up the creek to the scene of action, and reached there, after marching about 14 miles in 4 hours, only in time to see a long line of dust made by the enemy on his rapid retreat. If we could have pursued him, we might still have done great execution; but we were too completely exhausted. No one thought the defeat so disastrous until the next day, in fact most of us prepared for a hard fight the day following. We knew they had heavy reserves at Centreville, and supposed the army would rally there. But they were so frightened that they never stopped running from our cavalry until they crossed the Potomac. We took almost every thing they had – 74 cannon, some 500 wagons, hundreds of horses, thousands of muskets, and millions of ammunition, numerous ambulances, &c. – The property we got could not be replaced short of 3 to 5 millions. The field the day after the fight beggars description. – Heads, legs, arms, dead bodies, wounded, &c. lay in one confused mass for miles. Where the Tigers met the Zouaves, that latter were piled five deep in many places. Many of the wounded Yankees lay two days in a cold rain and chilly air, before assistance could be rendered them. Their friends deserted them and we had to provide for them.

Your friend,
J. M. Hall

The (Grove Hill, AL) Clarke County Democrat, 8/15/1861

Clipping Image

Josephus Marion Hall at Ancestry

Josephus Marion Hall at Fold3

Josephus Marion Hall at FindAGrave


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