Unit History – 5th South Carolina Infantry

31 03 2022

Assembled during March and April 1861, contained men recruited in Laurens, Lancaster, Spartanburg, and Union counties. It was ordered to Virginia and, serving in D. R. Jones’ Brigade, saw action at First Manassas. Later it was placed in General R. H. Anderson’s, M. Jenkins’, and Bratton’s Brigade. It participated in the campaigns of the army from Williamsburg to Fredericksburg, then served in Longstreet’s Suffolk operations and with D. H. Hill in North Carolina. Moving again with Longstreet, the unit did not arrive in time to take part in the Battle of Chickamauga, but was engaged at Knoxville. Returning to Virginia, it was conspicuous at The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, in the trenches of Petersburg, and around Appomattox. This regiment reported 3 killed and 23 wounded at First Manassas and totalled 650 men in April, 1862. It sustained 21 casualties at Williamsburg, 81 at Gaines’ Mill, 73 at Frayser’s Farm, 39 during the Maryland Campaign, and 102 at Wauhatchie. In 1864 it lost 18 killed, 95 wounded, and 16 missing during The Wilderness Campaign, and from June 13 to December 31, there were 11 killed and 65 wounded. On April 9, 1865, the unit surrendered 19 officers and 263 men. The field officers were Colonels A. Coward, John R. R. Giles, and Micah Jenkins; Lieutenant Colonels Andrew Jackson, G. W. H. Legg, and John D. Wylie; and Majors Thomas C. Beckham, William M. Foster, and William T. Thomson.

From Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army, pp. 253-254





Image: Lt. Col. Charles Wentworth Roberts, 2nd Maine Infantry

31 03 2022
Charles Wentworth Roberts (Courtesy of Brad Pruden)

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Capt. John Wilson Harrington, Co. G, 8th South Carolina Infantry, On the Capture of Congressman Alfred Ely

30 03 2022

Capture of the Abolition Congressman, Ely.

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Camp Gregg, Headquarters
Eighth Reg’t S. C. V., July 31, 1861.

To the Editor of the Charleston Mercury:

I see by your issue of the 24th instant, that you give me the credit of the capture of Mr. Ely, the New York member of the Federal Congress. Will you please to me the kindness to say that the credit of the capture justly belongs to Sergeant-Major Mullins*, who handed him over to me for safe keeping, on that glorious field. Hence the error, I suppose, of your correspondent.

Sergeant-Major Mullins is better known, perhaps, throughout the State, as the eloquent member of the House of Representatives from “Liberty.”

Yours truly,
Jno. W. Harrington, Capt. 8th Reg’t S. C. V.

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/7/1861

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* William Sidney Mullins, member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 1852-1866

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“E.,” 5th South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

29 03 2022

Jenkins’ Regiment.

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We are pleased to place before our readers a communication from a correspondent in relation to the part of the Fifth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, in the great battle of the 21st. In an extended line of battle, covering seven miles, and with regiments marching beyond reach of enquiry soon after the engagement, it is manifestly impossible for any one or two men to see, hear, or tell the various occurrences of that eventful day. It is our desire to furnish the public with truthful, impartial and unexaggerated accounts of all our troops; and to that end we shall be exceedingly pleased to have detailed accounts from gentlemen of character in every regiment and company. If they will do this, they must blame themselves for omissions. They must be expected as a thing unavoidable.

The Fifth is a splendid regiment, and we are gratified that they had a showing in the field. In battles there seems always a great deal in the luck of opportunity for distinction.

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Camp Pettus, Fairfax County, Va., July 27.

We are somewhat surprised that the 5th Regiment, S. C. V., Col. Jenkins, has not received a prominent place in the picture of last Sunday’s great battle, when, what they did contributed so very materially to the success of our arms on that day. The fact, however, finds a ready explanation in the circumstances that the part they played was the closing scene of the drama; and the news of the victory at Stone Bridge had reached and left Manassas, and its limits been defined, while the fifth were in the midst of their fight. Gen. Beauregard himself has said that this movement contributed not “a little,” as Gen. Jones modestly reported, but “a great deal” to the completeness of the victory; and President Davis also remarked upon the brilliancy and daring of the action.

Early in the morning, Gens. Jones, Ewell and Longstreet were ordered to co-operate in making a demonstration upon the enemy’s reserve, on their extreme left, opposite Blackburn’s Ford, consisting of four regiments of infantry, a battalion of cavalry, and two field batteries of eight cannon. If this design had been consummated, the success would have been followed up upon the enemy’s left in action, and the battle would have closed hours sooner beyond question. But Gen. Ewell’s Brigade, from causes unknown to us, failed to meet the other two, and Gen. Jones was ordered to retrace his steps.

In the afternoon again, the same brigades were ordered upon the same enterprise, but after Gen. Jones’ brigade, undaunted and alacritous as ever, had marched three or four miles, the movement was again countermanded. These repeated orders and countermands of themselves, show clearly both the extreme importance and the extreme difficulty of this undertaking. These last orders reached Gens. Ewell and Longstreet, but did not reach Gen. Jones; and his brigade alone, therefore, went forward to the hazardous feat of storming eight field pieces, situated on a hill very difficult to access, and supported by at least four thousand infantry and five hundred cavalry.

Col. Jenkins’ regiment was drawn up in a line of battle on the brow of a hill, the Mississippi 18th on their left, and the Mississippi 17th behind in a ravine. Here the sharp-shooting began; and instantly with a shout, the Fifth rushed over the hill, across and open field, and then had to descend an exceedingly rough and precipitous hill, covered densely with mountain laurel. All this wile they were exposed to the fire of the enemy’s sharp-shooters, and a tremendous shower of grape and shell from their artillery. As they crossed the stream, in places waist deep, at the foot of the hill, and began to climb the next and last ascent, they received a farther and most galling fire from the Mississippians behind, until the latter fell back under the active and well-aimed batteries.

The 5th were now isolated in the presence of a force at least six times as great, having all advantages of position; the former, too, exhausted by wearisome watching and forced marches, the latter were as fresh as oiled athletes for the fight. Yet their line, which was necessarily broken in descending the hill, was reinforced; and their Colonel, cool yet firm as steel in the hour of peril, only awaited the support of two companies (his orders) to make the charge. Capt. Fontaine’s Company of the Mississippi 18th, rallied to the support of the 5th; and they were held there by the indomitable spirit that brings victory, three quarters of an hour by the watch, until orders, which were three several times issued, came from Gen. Jones for them to retire.

Meanwhile, just before these orders were received, the enemy’s bugle sound “to horse” was heard, and Col. Jenkins was in momentary expectation of receiving, a charge of cavalry. Considering it preferable to the open field behind the laurel jungle, he marched his regiment forward in good order under the brow of the hill, where they were screened from the artillery. Two companies of sharp-shooters, with long-ranged guns, were thrown forward upon the right, whose well-aimed and effective firing drove the gunners and cavalry to the woods.

The miscellaneous firing and sheering, and the exceeding boldness of the charge, seem to have produced panic, and the foe fled precipitately. They appear to have regarded this whole movement as a feint to disguise a flank or rear attack from a much larger force. Their retreat added greatly to the general rout.

Seventy-four were killed and wounded in Gen. Jones’ brigade. Many of the 5th were shot from behind by the Mississippians, whose brave and generous hearts bled within them when they learned what they had done. The loss of the enemy was about 40 killed and wounded.

But for the hand of a gracious Providence, which was visibly on our side everywhere during the day, the 5th must have been cut to pieces as the Palmetto Regiment were at Cherubusco; and their veteran coolness and firmness must, to some extent, at least, be ascribed to their ignorance of the enormous danger to which they were exposed. Take it all in all, this charge of the 5th on the afternoon of the 21st, was one of the most brilliant, daring and dangerous, if indeed, not one of the most “successful” side-events of the day.

E.

Yorkville (SC) Enquirer, 8/8/1861

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“Our Corporal”, 5th South Carolina Infantry, On the Campaign

28 03 2022

EDITORIAL CORRESPONDENCE.

Fairfax Station, Fairfax County, Va.
Tuesday Evening, July 23, 1861.

Dear Enquirer: – Last Sabbath, the 21st, was perhaps the most solemn, stirring and eventful day ever witnessed on the American continent. We have fought a long and hotly, even desperately contested battle; and won a great and signal victory, by the stout arms of our soldiery, the towering genius of Johnston, Davis and Beauregard, and the gracious blessing of Heaven. Though thousands of tender hearts must bleed at the South, yet a thrill of joy at the success of our arms will pervade millions. We pray that it may teach our enemies the utter folly of their bloody designs, and lead them to the paths of peace.

To give you a just conception of the “stupendous whole,” we must begin with the beginning. On Wednesday morning the contending hosts began to “mobilize,” in order to make and resist the onset. About 10 o’clock on that morning, the 5th Regiment received orders to march forward: and by 1 o’clock, leaving knapsack, clothing and every impediment behind, except a single blanket and three days provisions, crossed Bull’s Run, where the 17th and 18th Mississippi Regiments, constituting the remainder of Gen. Jones’ brigade, encamped for the night. Our regiment filed up Rocky Run, a small stream that flows down among rugged hills from the northward, and two miles farther on lay all night on their arms in an ambush, in expectation of the advancing enemy. They failed, however, to reach us during the night; but were so close upon us next morning that some of our rear guard came very near being picked off, as we retreated to the Mississippi Regiments on the Run.

I may as well here, by way of episode, tell you, that McDowell’s plan was to make a false and a real attack; and that the field of the two extended from McLane’s ford, where our brigade was posted, up to the Stone bridge, a distance of from 5 to 7 miles upon a rough estimate. About a ¼ mile above McLane’s ford is Blackburn’s, where the fight occurred on the afternoon of the 18th; above that, say 1 mile, is Mitchell’s ford, where Col. Williams’ Regiment lay nearly all day Sunday under cover of their entrenchments, receiving at intervals a heavy cannonading, without being near enough to use musketry. The next crossing place of any importance, is the Stone Bridge itself, some 3 or 4 miles above Mitchell’s ford.

The first design of the enemy seems to have been to force a passage at Blackburn’s ford, which they attempted on Thursday evening, with every advantage of numbers, position and artillery. The first gun was fired precisely at 12 o’clock, and a sharp artillery fight was kept up on both sides till near one, when the infantry began to participate on both sides. As we were only a very short distance from the field, and expecting a flank attempt upon our ford every moment, we lay still under cover of bushes at the foot of the hills, bordering upon the south side of the Run, and had every opportunity to take notes of the engagement. The first volley of musketry made an impression which will never be eradicated from memory. It was sublime and inspiring beyond description. Volley after volley was poured by each into the other for ½ or ¾ of an hour with astonishing rapidity. The enemy was repulsed, but rallied again; and had succeeded in crossing the Run, when the 18th Virginia regiment came at double quick upon the field, drove them back and won the day. The loss on our side was 15 or 20 killed – and more; some say 12, some 7 – and from 40 to 60 wounded; the loss on the side of the enemy being not less, perhaps more, than 100 killed, and 200 or 300 wounded. The honor of the victory is due to Gen. Longstreet’s brigade, and 4 pieces of the Washington artillery under Lieut. Garnett. The number engaged was about 3,000 on our, and from 7,000 to 10,000 on their side. The firing lasted 4 ½ hours.

Failing so signally in this direct attack, when so confident of success, Gen. McDowell concluded that it was not beneath his genius to employ the “oblique order” – in other words to plan a battle; and for this purpose he consumed Friday and Saturday. His plan was to make a feigned attack upon Blackburn’s ford, ad a real attack somewhere else – higher up as it turned out. But the plat was so badly concealed that it was discovered in our camp as early as an hour by sun, Saturday afternoon. At this hour their drums began to beat in high style, up the ravines around the head of Rocky Run. We were out in company with Capt. Fernandez, an old Texas ranger who fought from ’34 to ’37, through the bloody and stormy days of the “Lone Star,” and was also in the campaign against the Indians on the Texas frontier. We passed beyond our line of picquets, and even heard them shouting and cheering; and it took no time for the Captain, experienced in the wilds and strategies of a more cunning enemy, to discover that all this fuss was mere “gammon.” We climbed a tall tree, and with a marine glass, scoured the open fields beyond the chain of ravines, but saw no foe – the main column evidently debouching beyond the hills below Centreville. In vain do you set a net in sight of the bird; and so it proved in the sequel.

During the night of Saturday, large bodies of the enemy reached the neighborhood of Stone Bridge, and their artillery fell into entrenchments which they were base enough to throw up while there a few days before under a flag of truce, pretending to bury their dead of the previous fight at that place. Sharp shooting began as early as 4 or 5 o’clock between skirmishing parties of the two armies. The first cannon fired was a Parrot gun from an eminence opposite Blackburn’s ford; and this gun, assisted at intervals by two or three others, poured a hot fire into McLane’s, Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s fords all the day – giving solemn cadence by its leisurely and monotonous thunder, to the terrific and furious uproar of the battle. During the day there could not have been much less than 35,000 or 40,000 on our side; and between 60,000 and 75,000 on the side of the enemy. Gen. Johnson commanded our left wing; and “the glorious Beauregard,” the right wing. Gen. McDowell led on the Yankees. Gen. Scott was on the field at a safe distance – we sit now in a beautiful clovered apple orchard, in full view of the house where he ate his dinner; and Lincoln, a large number of Senators and Congressmen, and two or three hundred Washington ladies, are said to have been ear witnesses of the engagement. Some give the credit of turning the tide of battle to Davis who drove a wedge into the enemy’s centre, and dislodged portion of them; others give it to Beauregard, who arriving on the field in the very niche of time when all seemed lost, rallied his men and headed the charge in person, producing wherever he went a thrill of hope and ardor, that won the smile of heaven and called down victory. Gen. Johnson towered a terror to the foe. To his friends a magnificent attraction, and a beacon star. Each of these great men was equal to the post; and their followers were every whit worthy of their leaders. Nothing less than Spartan valor, Roman firmness and French ardor, guided and sustained by the genius of a Pericles, a Scipio and a Napoleon, won the field. The route was complete; the loss must have been heavy on both sides, but we have no means of telling even the probable number. Gen. Bartow of Georgia, Gen. B. E. Bee of S. C., Lieut. Col. B. J. Johnson of Hamtpon’s legion, and Lieut. Col. Wilkes of Sloan’s Regiment, are the prominent officers slain. A Yankee shot Col. Wilkes while watering his foaming horse, and stole his boots, leaving a pair of dilapidated shoes beside the corpse. Lieut. E. A. Palmer, well known in your town, fell pierced through in two or three places. He was greatly prized in his regiment. None of the S. C. regiments suffered severely. Five, Sloan’s, Kershaw’s, Hampton’s, Williams’ and Jenkins’, were more or less engaged, yet 100 to 150 will cover the killed, and from 300 to 400, the wounded. The Georgia 7th suffered much, and is entitled to the honor of charging and taking six pieces of Sherman’s battery.

Notwithstanding the glorious rout of the enemy at and below Stone Bridge, the triumph of the day was not complete till their reserve were driven from their rallying point, opposite Blackburn’s ford; and the honor of this daring and hazardous enterprise is emphatically due, and is given by all who know anything about it, to Col. Jenkins’ regiment. The ever vigilant and discerning eye of Beauregard himself, saw both the extreme importance and the extreme danger of this assault; and early in the morning had ordered three brigades, Jones’, Ewell’s and one other, to advance, meet beyond the Run and make the charge, with the reserved purpose, if successful, of flanking the enemy’s left in the general engagement. There can be no doubt that the fight would have ended hours sooner if this plan had succeeded; but it did not. From causes unknown to us, the other brigades failed to meet ours at the appointed rendezvous, and Gen. Jones after lying with his men in the woods for hours, hearing that a large body of cavalry were coming up on our right, and an overwhelming corps of infantry were arriving to cut us off on our left, hastily retreated to Bull’s Run. The boys had scarcely time to munch their dinner of crackers and bacon, however, before they were put upon the march again. This time it had been planned to make the charge with General Longstreet. The day was waning rapidly, and there was not time to lose. We made a forced and circuitous march of some 5 miles, up and down rugged hills, through forests rendered almost impenetrable by dense undergrowth, and over yawning ravines. When we reached the place from which the long and apparently desperate assault was to be made, the men were nearly exhausted from their thirst and fatigue. Nevertheless the untameable spirit which burned in their bosoms, urged them on to deeds of dauntless heroism. The 5th were drawn up in line of battle and crouched at a “ready” on an open hill side; the Mississippi 18th , were drawn up in a ravine behind them; and the Mississippi 17th, were on the left, lower down the ravine. Skirmishers were thrown forward to scour the field, and drive in the outposts of the enemy. No sooner had these received and returned a galling fire, than our Colonel gave the order to advance, when a shout arose from our line, and the men went forward with a rush over the hill.

We crossed an open field in bull blaze of a rapid fire from the enemy’s sharp shooters and artillery. Then came the astonishing part of this almost unprecedented charge. We now had to descend a steep hill side covered very densely with the crooked and serpentine laurel – a place which the bear, panther and wild cat themselves would delight to haunt. This hill-side was from 25 to 50 yards in extent, and took the swiftest of us 5 to 10 minutes to descend it. This had to be done, too, when we could not fire a gun with effect, and when we were in full blaze of a tripple fire – from the enemy’s cannon, their musketry, and a tremendous flank fire from the Mississippians, who, unfortunately, mistook us for the advancing enemy. Yet our men never faltered. They mounted the fence, and in two minutes the whole hill-side was stirring like a bee hive. Being a corporal of the color-guard, and a smaller man than the sergeant, and only having a gun instead of a long flag staff to carry through the jungle, we reached the font of the hill before the colors, and had a moment to turn and survey the scene. You never say a hail storm descend with more relentless and stormy fury. The Yankees used “buck and ball,” and every musket, consequently, discharged four deadly missiles; and their columns, also, now began to open fire upon us. We caught the gleam of our glorious tri-color about half way down the hill; and the groans of the wounded fell harshly upon our ears.

Our regiment crossed the creek at the bottom of the hill, some of them wading the water to almost waist deep, passed the flat, and advanced midway the next ascent; when the Colonel halted us, in order to put a top to the unfortunate fire of the Mississippians, which now increased in fury as they mistook us for the retreating enemy. Our shout in charging, and the promiscuous fire which went up from our whole line, put the foe to a precipitous fight; and General Longstreet came upon the field just in time to see the action close, and possess himself of the guns which they left behind; though he gives all the honor of driving the gunners from them to our regiment.

Our force was from 2,500 to 2,700, with two pieces of the Washington Artillery; which, however, after almost superhuman effort, owing to the utter roughness of the ground, made to themselves, a mortifying failure to get into position. The enemy had, it is thought, at least 5,000 musketeers, two or three companies of sharp shooters, 500 cavalry, a field battery of 3 pieces, and 3 other pieces in a masqued battery. The loss on our side were 3 men killed, and 19 wounded; on that of the enemy about 40 men. General Jones in his official report said that he was happy to report his brigade as contributing “a little” to the general success; General Beaurgard said “not a little, but a great deal,” and President Davis, who was among the Mississippians on Sunday night, says he knows nothing equal to the long and stormy charge in triumphant daring, except the double quacking of the French over the walls of Sebastopol. A friend writing to us from another regiment, says – “Glorious 5th! – worthy sons of King’s Mountain! You have already won enough laurels for a campaign.” The General who was in feeble health and languished on his bed all the night before and consequently could not throw himself body and soul into the fight, and Captain Coward, his aid-de-camp, than whom a more masculine military intellect and spirit, with a gentler heart and more genuine modesty, cannot be found easily, were both, when we returned, bathed in tears. Both the Mississippi regiments had left the field under the overwhelming fire; and they thought we were surrounded and cut to pieces. When we arrived where the other regiments rallied, Captain Coward with a swelling heart rode by, and in tones trembling with generous emotion said: “Thank God, men! I see you safe; I thought you were cut to pieces.” Mark you, if the war continues, he will reach an enviable distinction. When the Mississippians learned what they had done, they bowed their heads, and wept like children.

Nothing can exceed the devoted love and enthusiastic confidence with which our gallant Colonel inspired his men by his collected, intrepid, prudent and manly conduct during this hour to try his capacity. No colonel ever had a severer trial of his strength, in his “maiden effort;” and none, we believe, ever acquitted himself more handsomely. Col. Jenkins has proven himself an intrepid, yet a rapidly thinking leader, whose presence of mind and ability to guide forsake him not un the most trying emergency. – And too great praise cannot be given to his men. They have shown themselves more than willing to go anywhere duty calls.

Gov. McWillie, of Mississippi, lost a son in this encounter, and President Davis a nephew. H. A. McCrary of the Spartan Rifles, William Little, of Captain Carpenter’s Company, and T. W. Fowler, of Captain Glenn’s Company, were killed in our regiment. Of the Spartan Rifles, Leander Noland was wounded in the right arm; S. L. Lands, a flesh wound in the thigh; and Rev. J. E. Watson, in the left wrist. Of Captain Carpenter’s Company, Geo. Bomar received a severe but not dangerous contusion in the thigh from a spent ball; R. S. Webb, grazed along the back and wounded through the humerus muscle of the right arm; and O. C. Sarrat had a ball to pass sheer over his head, cutting out a lock from forehead to crown without touching the skin. A. S. Spears of Captain Glenn’s company, received a slight ball-cut on the side of the head – not at all dangerous. In Capt. Giles’ company, Thomas C. Wilson, had his left hand shot off; Thomas Elson both arms broken and slightly wounded in the breast; and Samuel Parker, a severe flesh sound in the thigh. C. B. Mintz, of Capt. Jackson’s company, lost the middle finger of the left hand. The Catawba’s had no one injured in the least. The Jasper’s lost no one killed, but suffered pretty severely. Our Orderly Sergeant, James Mason, was shot in the right shoulder, and the ball lodged somewhere about the shoulder joint. Felix Mullinax lost the forefinger of his left hand. W. F. Davidson was shot so severely through the right wrist, that his hand had to be amputated. W. B. Enloe, very early in the engagement, was shot through the left foot; yet he went on with his company, and was deployed with them as skirmishers, in a woods on the summit of the last hill. J. T. McKnight was slightly cut by a ball along the back of the neck. There were remarkable and hair-breadth escapes, too numerous to mention, in the engagement.

This great victory will go far to bring peace. Rev. Mr. Leftwich, who left Alexandria after the retreat of the foe, says that such a rout was never known. They rushed on through Alexandria to the boat landing, filled very boat present till they began to sink; and then the rush from behind was so great, that a number of the foremost were pushed into the Potomac and drowned. The draw-bridge opposite Georgetown was drawn up to prevent the column from passing, which retreated in that direction. It is said that those which reached Washington did not stop even there; but pushed through the city, took the cars, and went home. About fifty pieces of cannon, every piece the enemy had on this side of the Potomac, except one – a large quantity of guns and ammunition, and a perfectly enormous amount of baggage of every description, were taken.

Pray excuse our prodigious prolixity. We have written in sheer exhaustion, after a week of such fatigue, exposure and hardships, as we never experienced before; and we could not for the life of us, pack up our bundle of ideas closely.

Please say to your readers that Rev. J. H. Bryson, of Tennessee, is with our brigade, and will remain for an indefinite period of time. He has many personal friends among them.

Our Post Office is Manassas still – or properly, Tudor Hall, Prince William County, Virginia.

With the hope that we have given you a little light on the great battle and victory of Sunday, we close,

Gladly,
OUR CORPORAL.

Yorkville (SC) Enquirer, 8/1/1861

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Unknown (2), 5th South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

27 03 2022

Col. Jenkins’ Regiment.

It was at Blackburn’s ford, where Gen. Jones’s Brigade made an attack upon the left flank of the enemy, that this [?] regiment exhibited a noble display of their readiness and mettle. The following record, though not surrounded with the halo of victory, is one of which every South Carolinian will ever be proud. Honor and thanks to Col. Jenkins and his brave men. Says the narrative before us, – (the one just issued by Evans & Cogswell:)

“The brigade embraced the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Mississippi Regiments and the 5th South Carolina Regiment under the command of Col. Jenkins. These were stationed at MacLane’s Ford on Bull Run. Gen. Longstreet was on the right at Blackburn’s Ford, while Gen. Ewell occupied a position on Mitchell’s Ford. Just in front of Jones’ position, on a hill opposite, was a battery of eight guns, which all the morning had been pouring upon our forces an incessant though harmless fire. This, Jones was to attack in front, Longstreet in the rear and Ewell on the right.

“The first brigade accordingly advanced by a circuitous route, the South Carolinians in front, the Seventeenth on their left and the Eighteenth on their right, and took up a position on the hill about half a mile from the battery. Here, before the Eighteenth were completely formed, the battery opened upon the brigade a heavy fire of grape, canister and musketry. The South Carolinians were ordered to advance, and they made an impetuous charge across a field about three hundred yards in length. This brought them to the edge of an exceedingly dense thicket, which covered the declivity of the hill, but our boys gallantly continued their way under a galling storm of musketry, shell and grape, which the enemy directed into their midst from the brow of q neighboring hill, until the latter were forced to retreat, first under cover of their battery, and finally to a neighboring ravine.

“Now comes the most unfortunate part of the whole affair. Col. Jenkins and his command had charged so rapidly over the hill that when the Mississippians on the left and right came around the ravine, and saw the Carolinians rushing on, they mistook them for retreating Yankees, and at the distance of only one hundred yards opened a tremendous fire. Here most of our men fell. The musketry continued until we got out of their reach. It is due to them, however to say that their officers, recognizing the South Carolinians, from their uniforms and flags, threw themselves in front of their men, and at the risk of their lives endeavored to stop their firing. The Eighteenth Regiment also fired upon the Seventeenth, and notwithstanding that both Carolinians and Mississippians threw up their hands and gave the signal of the day, it was impossible to restrain the terrible discharge of musketry which continued.

“By the time the Carolinians got out of the range of this unexpected fire they were within four hundred yards of the enemy’s artillery, which sent grape and canister flying over their heads. Meanwhile the Mississippians discovering their mistake, and being in some confusion, withdrew from the ground. Finding that he was thus totally unsupported, the other regiments composing the brigade having left him, and after having sent several couriers to General Jones, without response, Colonel Jenkins determined to retire. He accordingly threw two companies upon the brow of the hill to protect his retreat, and then slowly and in good order withdrew his command.

“Colonel Jenkins exhibited the greatest gallantry throughout the action, and considering that the Mississippians made him their especial mark, it is a miracle that he escaped. His stirrup was struck by a bullet, and the balls whistled around him in a shower.

“Within a few moments after his retreat the enemy deserted their guns and likewise retired, probably under the apprehension that we had fallen back to renew the charge, and it is supposed did not return, as they left upon the ground a large amount of luggage. There is no doubt that had the attack been continued we should have completely routed the enemy, captured the battery at that time, and have produced a totally different result from that which took place.

“The advance of the Carolinians was one of the bravest and boldest movements made during the day. The discipline was admirable. Every man appeared as cool and determined as if upon an evening review, and not a foot was stirred in retreat until the order was given by Col. Jenkins, when it was reluctantly obeyed. When the news was imparted to President Davis, he paid them the high compliment of saying that “none but Carolinians would have made such a charge.”

Edgefield (SC) Advertiser, 8/21/1861

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Unknown (3), Co. I, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

27 03 2022

Private Letter from a Member of the Palmetto Guard

Stone Bridge, Bull Run (No. 32) July 28, 1861

Since writing you we have had a terrible though glorious fight – this makes the second. The fight commenced on the left flank of our line, and we in the centre (Cash’s and Kershaw’s Regiments) received orders to march. When you were in church we were in the bloodiest fight that has ever transpired in North America. The day was lost when our two regiments came up. Our troops were falling back, and had retired some distance. Col. Kershaw gave the command forward, and after some ten or twelve rounds, away went the Yankees. I understand Beauregard said our regiments “saved the day” – a second battle of Waterloo. While the fight was going on on the left, the enemy’s right wing was routed, and the day was ours. South Carolina weeps. A ball struck my hat rim and dented it a few inches from the cockade. Five or six of our company are wounded, but none mortally. The fight continued from about 10 o’clock a. m. until night, when the whole Yankee line, 55 or 60,000, were driven back in the wildest confusion. The road by which they went is still filled with wagons, cannon, blankets, and anything in fact one could desire. Their army was splendidly equipped. A great number of wagons and prisoners were taken, and over thirty pieces of artillery, the greater part rifled cannon. Colonel Hampton’s command has suffered extremely. After the battle was over, our company (the Palmetto Guard) were sent out as skirmishers, a mile and a half, and came across a regiment in perfect order moving. We laid down and gave them five or six rounds, which were returned of course. Just then Kemper’s artillery came up and put it to them. They then went off, and are by the last accounts in Alexandria.

We expect another battle soon, but not from those troops – they were cut to pieces. Our company banner is thrice pierced by the enemy’s balls. The loss is not ascertained. It is very heavy on our side, but for or five times more on the other. This makes the second battle I have been in, but the first in which I ever fired. At the first battle of the 18th July we supported the artillery which tore open the ranks of the enemy. Shells exploded over our heads and rifled cannon balls whistled by us, still I am safe, thank God. I would have written yesterday, but it rained all day, and I could not, though I received and read yours. We are resting.

I have a Minnie rifle mounted, a Zouave blanket, and several other articles. No regiment ever entered a battle under more depressing circumstances than we did. All along our lines of march men were retreating and saying to us we are defeated. But we went forward and the day was won.

Charleston (SC) Mercury, 7/29/1861

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Image: Sgt. William Alexander McQueen, Co. D, 2nd South Carolina Infantry

26 03 2022
William Alexander McQueen (FindAGrave)

William Alexander McQueen at Ancestry

William Alexander McQueen at Fold3

William Alexander McQueen at FindAGrave





Sgt. William Alexander McQueen, Co. D, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

26 03 2022

[From the Sumter Watchman.]

CAMP NEAR VIENNA,
August 19, 1861

Dear Watchman: You have doubtless, by this time, heard from various sources a detailed account of the great battle of Manassas Plains. But there are some little incidents more immediately connected with our part in that glorious affair, which might not be uninteresting to your readers. The Colonel’s official report of the battle is very lucid and correct, the best thing of the kind that has yet been published. – There is one oversight, however, which cannot fail to be noticed by those who were engaged in the action. Every Captain in the Regiment is mentioned with honor, except that old Mexican hero, Capt. McManus; he is passed over in silence, only mentioned among the wounded. Now those who were near can testify that there was no one in that glorious battle who acted with mor calmness and self posession, and, withal, more gallantry, than did Capt. McManus. When struck by the fragment of a shell in the arm, he quietly turned to one of his men and said, “Hand me that shell,” and though the wound was painful, he refused to leave the field until the battle had ceased. I mention this as a simple act of justice to the Captain, and feel assured that the attention of our gallant and impartial Colonel has only to be called to the facts of the case, and it will be all right.

To give some idea of the coolness and sang froid with which our boys engaged the enemy, I have only to mention a few little anecdotes:

During the battle, a poor little rabbit, frightened by the roar of musketry, and the whistling of bullets, timidly approached our ranks; after giving chase for a few moments, a private in Capt. Haile’s Company succeeded in taking him prisoner, and very probably made a soup out of him for dinner.

My attention, during the battle, was attracted by a negro who fought with great coolness and bravery. He had obtained a fine Yankee gun on the field, and as he fired, would exclaim: “My golly! How de bucra* fall!”

As some poor soldier lay upon the field, groaning with pain, caused by a mortal wound, his comrade stepped up to him and whispered: “Oh, die game! die game!”

The following anecdote is related of Co. Kershaw: The Colonel had been suffering for several days previous to the battle from a sore leg, caused by the kick of a horse. – When he had reached the field, some one asked him how his leg was, “Sir,” said he, “I did not know that I had a leg.”

Yours,
W. A. McQ. **

The Lancaster (SC) News, 9/4/1861

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* “Buckra” is Gullah slang for “white man.” – ed.

** Per below records, likely William Alexander McQueen. Hat tip to reader Michael Pellegrini.

William Alexander McQueen at Ancestry

William Alexander McQueen at Fold3

William Alexander McQueen at FindAGrave





Pvt. Robert Welch, Co. H,  71st New State Militia, On the Battle

25 03 2022

The 71st N. Y. AT BULL RUN.

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It Suffered Quite a Heavy Loss.

Editor National Tribune: I am and have been very much interested in your history of the different armies. In your issue of June 6, I your account of the losses of Burnside’s Brigade, you mention the losses of the 1st and 2d R. I. and 2d N. H., but not of the 71st N. Y. S. M. As I have the published report of Col. Martin of the 71st, in my possession, I can add to your record. The report is dated Aug. 1, 1861, and gives the name of every man; Killed in action: 10; died from wounds, five; wounded, 36; prisoners, 19; missing, 5; total, 75. I was wounded and lay at the Sudley Church when the retreat was made from the extreme right flank. When Johnston’s reinforcements arrived Co. I, Capt. Ellis (afterwards Colonel of the 124th N. Y.) commanded the battery of two Dahlgren howitzers and did effective work. Gen. Beauregard, in his account of the battle, says that the two howitzers did more damage than the Parrott guns. As far as my judgement, after the experience of over five years later service, the battle of Bull Run was miserably managed. Several thousand troops were not brot into action, and, as you say, the battle was fought by piece meals. I can say this, that Burnside’s Brigade went in action as a brigade. As the brigade marched out of the timber beyond Sudley Church and was clear of it the order was given “By the left flank,” and the brigade went into action as a unit. When they arrived at the top of the knoll on the left flank of the enemy a volley was poured into the enemy, we receiving one in return, buy which I was wounded, then taken to Sudley Church Hospital, not knowing of any further action of the brigade afterwards. I look back on the battle of Bull Run as a small affair compared with what I was in afterwards, more especially during the siege of Port Hudson and Sheridan’s Shenandoah campaign and the Red River campaign.

—–Robert Welch, Co. H, 71st N. Y. S. M. 203 Tompkins avenue, Brooklyn, N. Y.

National Tribune, 7/25/1907

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Robert Welch at Ancestry

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