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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