Pvt. Matthew S. Ramsey, Co. D, 5th Alabama Infantry, On the Retreat to Bull Run and the Battle

13 01 2022

From the Seat of War.

For the Beacon.

Union Mills, Va., July 30, 1861.

Col Harvey – Dear Sir: – I guess you have heard all about the conflicts between the two armies in Virginia. – You have also learned, perhaps, that the 5th Regiment of Alabama “opened the ball” at Farr’s X Roads, near Fairfax Court House. Our pickets engaged their advance guard on the 17th of July, four miles in advance of our camp. The Regiment soon marched to our breast-works, not yet finished, expecting to meet them every moment. Company E, scouting under the gallant Capt. Shelly, was sent to the aid of the guards. These parties exchanged many fires with the Vandals, and retreated behind our fortifications, having suffered little injury. We were already ordered to retreat, and finding the troops who supported us, right and left, had gone, the order was executed. We marched in quick time down the Braddock Road, in the direction of Centreville, and reached McLane’s Ford, on the Bull’s Run Creek, about 3 o’clock P. M. Pretty hard march. We removed that night to this place, where we all slept that night without tents, and many of us without blankets. Uon this march, Colonel Rodes promoted Mr. W. L. Kennedy of the “Greensboro Guards,” to a position in the “Color-bearers staff,” for having performed some deed of bravery – killing, I think, as many as two Yankees. On Thursday we were holding our position near this place, and could hear the sharp fighting in the “little fight” at Mitchell’s Ford. On Sunday, the 21st July, we marched upon the field just as the enemy was in full retreat. We were first ordered to flank them, but some mistake made in issuing the orders, caused us to proceed rapidly to the scene of action. If Gen. Ewell’s Brigade had been permitted to open a heavy fire upon the disordered columns of the flying enemy, the route would have been complete. We will not regret this, however, as our brave army had gained glory enough for one day.

The 4th Alabama suffered severely in the contest; yet they acted nobly, fighting after the field officers had been all killed or wounded. I learn that Col. Jones has died since the battle. Maj. Scott is not seriously injured. In the language of President Davis, “This was a glorious but dear-bought victory.” Many noble sons of the South fell on the 21st of July – a day long remembered in the Southern Confederacy.

Thus you see the Fifth Regiment, or, as the Yankees call us, the “Bloody Fifth,” has been for the last two weeks subject to advance and retreat without ever yet being brought into actual service. We have learned, since our retreat, that Lincoln’s troops boast of having whipped the 5th Ala. Regiment with the loss of twenty-seven men, – Glorious victory, that!

The “Greensboro Guards” are pretty well at present. Mrs. Gen. Kerr, who has shown us so many favors, has just arrived in camp. She is from Culpepper Court House, where she attends our sick.

Yours truly,
M. S. Ramsey

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 8/16/1861

Clipping Image

Roster of 5th Alabama Infantry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Ancestry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Fold3


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