Frederick County Civil War Round Table

25 04 2022
I forgot to take my traditional selfie. Thanks to my son for taking up the slack.

This past Thursday, April 21, I delivered my presentation on McDowell’s Plan to about 25 folks of the Frederick County Civil War Round Table, at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine smack dab in Frederick, Md. They were a good group, stayed awake, and asked some really good questions afterwards. It was nice to see old friends Jim Rosebrock, Brian Downey, and Tracey McIntyre, too. Thanks to Matt Borders for inviting me down. If you get the chance to speak there, or attend a meeting on the third Thursday each month, be sure to take advantage.

Unit History – 8th South Carolina Infantry

25 04 2022

Was organized at Marion, South Carolina, during the spring of 1861. Many of the men were from Darlington and Marion counties. The unit moved to Florence, then during the end of May was ordered to Virginia. It fought at First Manassas under General Bonham before being assigned to General Kershaw’s, Kennedy’s, and Conner’s Brigade. The 8th was engaged in many conflicts from the Seven Days’ Battles to Gettysburg, moved to Georgia with Longstreet, was active at Chickamauga and Knoxville. Returning to Virginia, it participated in the battles at The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, then saw action in the Shenandoah Valley with Early. Later it was involved in the North Carolina Campaign. The regiment reported 5 killed and 23 wounded at First Manassas and in April, 1862, totalled 276 men. It lost 7 killed, 36 wounded, and 9 missing at Malvern Hill, 6 killed and 28 wounded out of 126 at Maryland Heights, 1 killed, 17 wounded and 4 missing of the 71 at Sharpsburg, and 2 killed and 29 wounded at Fredericksburg. Of the 300 engaged at Gettysburg, thirty-three percent were disabled. On March 23, 1865, there were only 52 present for duty. The unit surrendered with the Army of Tennessee. Its commanders were Colonels Ellerbee B. C. Cash and John W. Henagan, Lieutenant Colonels Axalla J. Hoole and Eli T. Stackhouse, and Majors Thomas E. Lucas and D. M. McLeod.

From Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army, p. 256

Unit History – 3rd South Carolina Infantry

23 04 2022

Organized at Columbus, South Carolina, in April, 1861, contained men recruited in the ounties of Laurens, Colleton, Pickens, Spartanburg, and Newberry. Ordered to Virginia, it saw action at Fist Manassas in Bonham’s Brigade. Later the 3rd was placed in General Kershaw’s, Kennedy’s, and Conner’s Brigade. It participated in the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days’ Battles to Gettysburg, then moved to Georgia with Longstreet. After fighting at Chickamauga and Knoxville, it returned to Virginia and continued conflict at The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. Later it was involved in Early’s Shenandoah Valley operations and the North Carolina Campaign. In April, 1862, this regiment totalled 550 effectives. It reported 23 killed, 108 wounded, and 4 missing at Savage’s Station, had 14 killed and 35 wounded of 371 at Maryland Heights, and lost 11 killed, 71 wounded, and 2 missing of the 266 at Sharpsburg. The unit lost 163 at Fredericksburg, 12 at Chancellorsville, and twenty-one percent of the 406 at Gettysburg. Its last battle was at Bentonville where 1 was killed and 15 were wounded, and on March 23, 1865, there were 191 present for duty. It surrendered on April 26. The field officers were Colonels James D. Nance, William D. Rutherford, and James H. Williams; Lieutenant Colonels James M. Baxter, B. B. Foster, Benjamin C. Garlington, and Robert C. Maffett; and Major R. P. Todd.

From Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army, p. 252

Unit History – 11th (21st) North Carolina Infantry

22 04 2022

Was a twelve month company command organized in Danville, Virginia, in June, 1861. Men of this unit were recruited in Davidson, Surry, Forsyth, Stokes, Rockingham, and Guilford counties. It was assigned to General Trimble’s, Hoke’s, Godwin’s, and W. G. Lewis’ Brigade. After taking part in the Battle of Manassas and Jackson’s Valley operations, the 21st participated in many conflicts of the army from Seven Days’ Battles to Bristoe. It was then involved in the engagements at Plymouth, Drewry’s Bluff, and Cold Harbor, marched with Early to the Shenandoah Valley, and saw action around Appomattox. The unit sustained 80 casualties at First Winchester, 13 at Cross Keys and Port Republic, 45 during the Seven Days’ Battles, 51 at Groveton, 18 at Sharpsburg, and 24 at Fredericksburg. It lost 78 at Chancellorsville, twenty-eight percent of the 436 at Gettysburg, and 52 at Plymouth. In April, 1865, it surrendered with 6 officers and 117 men of which 40 were armed. The field officers were Colonels Robert F. Hoke and William W. Kirkland; Lieutenant Colonels Saunders Fulton, B. Y. Graves, James M. Leach, Rufus K. Pepper, William S. Rankin, and William L. Scott; and Majors James F. Beall, Alex. Miller, W. J. Pfohl, and J. M. Richardson.

From Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army, pp. 224-225

Unit History – 11th Virginia Infantry

20 04 2022

Was organized at Lynchburg, Virginia, in May, 1861, and accepted into Confederate service in July. Its members were raised in the counties of Campbell, Botetourt, Montgomery, Fauquier, Culpeper, and Rockbridge. The unit fought at First Manassas under General Longstreet and at Dranseville under J. E. B. Stuart. Laer it was assigned to General A. P. Hill’s, Kemper’s, and W. R. Terry’s Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. It served with the army from Williamsburg to Gettysburg except when it was at Suffolk with Longstreet. The 11th was engaged at Plymouth in North Carolina and after returning to Virginia saw action at Drewry’s Bluff and Cold Harbor. It went on to fight in the Petersburg trenches south and north of the James River and ended the war at Appomattox. This regiment reported 6 killed and 15 wounded at Dranesville, totalled 750 men in April, 1862, and lost 134 at Williamsburg and 100 at Frayser’s Farm. It sustained 63 casualties at Second Manassas, had about forty percent disabled of the 359 engaged at Gettysburg, and lost 15 killed and 94 wounded at Drewry’s Bluff. Many were captured at Sayler’s Creek, and only 1 officer and 28 men surrendered. The field officers were Colonels David Funsten, Samuel Garland, Jr., Maurice S. Langhorne, and Kirkwood Otey; and Majors Adam Clement, Carter H. Harrison, and J. R. Hutter.

From Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army, pp. 362-363

Preview: Bryan, “Cedar Mountain to Antietam”

20 04 2022

New from Savas Beatie is M. Chris Bryan’s Cedar Mountain to Antietam: A Civil War Campaign History of the Union XII Corps, July-September 1862. From the jacket:

Bryan’s extensive archival research, newspapers, and other important resources, together with detailed maps and images, offers a compelling story of a little-studied yet consequential command that fills a longstanding historiographical gap.

You get:

  • 346 page narrative in eleven chapters and an epilogue
  • 3 appendices, with orders of battle, numbers and losses, and the 3rd Wisconsin at Cedar Mountain
  • 10 page bibliography
  • Full index
  • Bottom-of-page footnotes
  • 28 (!) Hal Jesperson Maps

Pvt. James Wooldridge, Co. E, 11th Virginia Infantry, In the Battle

19 04 2022

An Incident of the Bull’s Run Fight. – The Lynchburg Republican narrates the following:

“During the height of the battle, many of our troops, in their anxiety to get a sure pop at the enemy, left the ranks for that purpose, and advanced some distance in front. One of these, James Wooldridge, of Capt. Blankinship’s company, who was wounded, made for a tree, which would afford him protection, but just as he arrived there, a Lincolnite came up, who disputed the possession of the tree with Wooldridge. The matter was, however, quickly settled, for without any parley, Wooldridge ran his bayonet through the Yankee, killing him instantly. A Federal officer then rode up, who had observed the affair, and while Wooldridge’s bayonet was still in the body of his victim, ordered him to surrender. The proposition, however, did not accord with Wooldridge’s idea, for in an instant his bayonet was withdrawn, when he let the officer have the full benefit of it, and killed him instantly also. Two more Lincolnites were just then rushing upon Wooldridge, but observing the fate of those who had preceded them, immediately turned about, and, taking to their heels as fast as they could, left our hero in possession of the much coveted tree. Wooldridge was subsequently wounded, no doubt in consequence of exposing himself unnecessarily.”

Edgefield (SC) Advertiser, 8/14/1861

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James Woolridge at Ancestry

James Woolridge at Fold3

Sgt. Nelson Cole, Co. C, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Retreat

14 04 2022

Hair-Breadth Escape. – Sergeant Nelson Cole, of company C, second Vermont regiment, from Brattleboro, gives a very interesting account of his experience in the vicissitudes of war. A companion had been shot in the ankle, shattering the bone, and Sergeant Col was assisting him to the hospital when the retreat took place. Finding the enemy upon them, his companion begged him to leave him and take care of himself.

Emerging from his shelter, after a long run, he found himself in the midst of the enemy, who fired upon him; leaping the fences, he ran a couple hundred yards through the open ground, under a shower of balls, and again succeeded in reaching the woods, but was subsequently discovered and captured. While on their way to the Secesh camp they passed the hospital, when Cole begged to be allowed to get his coat. This was granted, and Cole sent to get it.

Finding the rear unguarded, he passed through the back window, and again took to the woods. He succeeded in eluding his pursuers, and, after a weary travel, found himself, nearly famished, in the vicinity of a mill. An elderly lady was the only person about, her son being an officer in the rebel army. She gave him food, and a hat and pair of pants belonging to her son. In this disguise, he passed for a Virginian, and, although three times stopped, succeeded in reaching the vicinity of Leesburg, where he sought shelter for the night. The people (females) professed themselves Union people, and he told them his story. After retiring, he heard a conversation going on, and, listening, he discovered a plan maturing to send for some neighbors, and seize the “Abolitionist.” He waited till all was quiet, and made his way to the Potomac, where he found a negro to row him across, and he came to the city on the Maryland side.

(Washington, D. C.) National Republican, 8/5/1861

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Nelson Cole at Ancestry

Nelson Cole at Fold3

Chaplain Joseph Cross, 2nd Tennessee Infantry, After the Battle

13 04 2022

A Clergyman at the Battle of Manassas – He meets with “Hon.” Mr. Ely. – Rev. Joseph Cross, Chaplain of Col. Bate’s Tennessee Regiment, writes to the Christian Advocate some interesting letters from the “seat of war.” We extract the following from his last:

Merciful God, what a sight for Christian eyes! Wagons and ambulances loaded with mangled and groaning men; corpses carried on litters and legs and arms recently cut off by the surgeon; brains and blood scattered over the ground and trod into the mire; soldiers walking about with broken limbs, bandaged heads, covered with their own gore; others sitting or lying upon the wet earth, with wounds undressed and bleeding.

A lady, young and beautiful, but pale as death, hurried by me, exclaiming – “Where is poor Jim?” and as she disappeared in the throng a low voice said, “She is from Alabama; Jim was her brother.” Another came with delicate feet, fir only to tread on roses, regardless of the mud through which she waded, exclaiming, “Where is he? where?” and an officer answered, soothingly, “Yonder, in that house with the yellow flag; they have amputated the limb, and he is doing very well.”

The next sad spectacle was a middle aged woman, who met a dead body borne upon a plan; at the sight of which she burst in to tears, and sank upon the ground, when two soldiers raised her up and carried her after her dead husband.

I saw a dense crowd and walked toward it. Within were many prisoners, sitting, lying, walking about; some sad and others sullen; some evidently uneasy, others, apparently quite indifferent, and here and there one affecting mirth and jocularity. There several of Wilson’s cut-throat gang, and three of Ellsworth’s Zouaves. The latter said they did not know whether another of their number had escaped death, but believed themselves the only survivors. There was a little man with a wicked, wolfish look, as restless as a hyena in a cage. It was the Hon. Alfred Ely, member of Congress from Rochester, New York. Our Capt. Clusky, having been acquainted with him in Washington, stepped up and took his hand. Most piteously the prisoner implored the interposition, on his behalf, of a man whom, hours before he would gladly have slaughtered. Capt. C. introduced him to our gallant Colonel.

“Your servant, Colonel Bate,” said the prisoner, bowing obsequiously. “I am glad to meet you. You see I am in a bad fix.”

“Yes sir,” said the Colonel; “you are, for a member of Congress, in a VERY bad fix.” But you see,” rejoined the honorable gentleman, throwing open the breast of his coat, “I am not in uniform; merely spectator came out with Senator Foster to see the battle; but unfortunately ventured too far, and was taken.”

“Mr. Ely,” replied the Colonel, “a battle-field is no place for a civilian. You are a member of Congress, sire, and the representative of at least ninety thousand people. And do you think yourself a cipher in a scene like this? No, sir; the moral influence of our presence was worth a hundred soldiers to our enemies. Are you not a lawyer, Mr. Ely?”

“Yes, sir,” said Mr. Ely. “I am a lawyer.”

“Then, sir,” Col. B. continued, “you know that by your presence you are aiding and abetting that by this cruel and bloody assault upon us. It is a principle of law which you are accustomed to recognize elsewhere, and which you are oblige to acknowledge here.”

He assented with a sheepish look, and continued his absurd apology, which the Colonel thus cut short:

“Mr. Ely, we are glad to see you here, we want you with us, and cannot consent to part with you soon. There are men at Washington for whom we may be willing to exchange you hereafter, if indeed, you should not be hanged, as you deserve.” * * * *

The battle-field, who shall describe? You could have walked over acres literally paved with the dead and dying, and in some places were piles of gashed and gory corpses, but everywhere there appeared to be five Yankees and one Southron. The miserable cowards as they fled left the slain and the wounded upon the field, and the former were buried by our own soldiers, and the latter treated by our surgeons; while in Washington the brutal rascals were beating to death the few Southern captives they had taken!

In a few weeks I hope to preach to the Walker Legion from the steps of the Capitol at Washington, on the words of General Joshua before the gates of Jericho; “Shout, for the Lord hath given us the city!”

(Prattville, AL) Autauga Citizen, 9/12/1861

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2nd Tennessee Infantry Co. H Roster

Joseph Cross at Ancestry

Joseph Cross at Fold3

“W. P. S.,” Bee’s Brigade, On Brig. Gen. Barnard Bee and the Campaign

12 04 2022



On the fifteenth day of July the hills and valleys around Winchester, Va., were white with the tents of Gen. Johnston’s army, which consisted of the commands of Brigadier Generals Barnard E. Bee and E. Kirby Smith, and of Colonels Elzy, Bartow and Jackson, acting Brigadier Generals, and the cavalry command of Lieut. Colonel Stuart.

The town was all excitement under the information that Gen. Patterson had advanced from Martinsburg four miles in the directions of Winchester. Early the next morning the strains of martial music were heard on every side; the entire camp was in motion; and soon, out of the apparent disorder and confusion, came fort the regularly ordered columns, stretching along the roads leading in the direction of the enemy. The troops were in high spirits at the prospect of an engagement; but as it was well ascertained that such could not take place for a least several hours, while some of the commands took their positions in line of battle to await intelligence, General Bee availed himself of the opportunity to give the brigade some practical instruction, and spent most of the morning in “evolutions of the line.” Nothing further having been heard from the enemy, the troops were returned to their camps; but, in the evening, a courier from the ever-watchful Col. Stuart announced the enemy at Bunker’s Hill, nine miles from Winchester, and advancing. Orders were immediately issued to advance our troops to their respective positions and take up line of battle. As the order passed from camp to camp, it was received by the soldiers with the wildest enthusiasm, and the joyous shouts from determined men rang through the valleys. Every man sprang promptly to his position, and at night the men laid upon their arms in expectation of the attack, which was looked for with the first dawn of morning. The morning came; and, as hour after hour passed silently by, and still no signs of the enemy, disappointment was seen on every face. At last a messenger from Col. Stuart tells the story: “Patterson has fallen back on Bunker’s Hill, and commenced a movement to his right, which will take him to Charlestown and beyond our reach.” The lines were again retired, and the men moved sullenly back to camp. They had confidently expected to annihilate Patterson’s army of thirty thousand, notwithstanding our army numbered but little over half his force. At daybreak on Wednesday, the 18th, orders were issued that the troops should be supplied with two day’s cooked rations, and be ready to move at a moment’s notice. Early in the day orders to commanders of Brigades announced that Gen. Beauregard was being attacked at Manassas by overwhelming numbers, and that our army would be immediately moved to his support. This order was published to the troops after they were on the march, and several miles out of Winchester.

The object of Gen. Patterson in so suddenly abandoning what seemed to have been his purpose in moving on Bunker Hill, could not be certainly known. It might be to pass around and attack the unfortified side of Winchester, or it might be to get between Johnston’s army and Manassas, and prevent him from reinforcing Gen. McDowell. In either event, it was more than likely that we should encounter him en route to Manassas; and it was therefore important that the army should move with its appointments looking to an attack. Gen. Bee was in command of the rear division, consisting of his own brigade of five regiments and a Virginia battery of four brass field pieces, under the gallant Imboden; also, the brigade of Col. Elzy and Col. Stuart’s command of thirteen companies of Virginia cavalry.

The manly and soldierly bearing of General Bee, together with his constant efforts to secure for the troops of his command all the comforts that circumstances would allow, had won from them an admiration amounting to affection, which was demonstrated by the wildest and most enthusiastic cheering, as regiment after regiment defiled past him, where he stood dismounted on a slight eminence by the road side, watching to see that all was in order with the rear guard. But these men were yet to know him better and appreciate him more amid the storm of battle, the shrill sound of the enemy’s shells, and the sharp whistle of their Minnie balls filling the air – the dead and the dying strewed all around him – his cool steady courage as he moved from battalion to battalion of his command, a living, speaking example, [?]ing “death rather than defeat.”

It was late in the afternoon of the 18th July when the last regiment (the 6th North Carolina, commanded by Colonel Fisher,) left the town of Winchester. The troops were in the highest spirits, and their anxiety to reach Manassas could illy brook the frequent delays to which they were subjected by the trains of wagons extending for miles along the road between the advanced and rear columns. Hour after hour during the night the rumbling of heavy wagons and the steady tramp of soldiers echoed along the rugged road, reaching away in the direction of the Shenandoah. It was long past midnight when the exhausted teams were halted for food and rest, and the wearied soldiers stretched themselves and slept in the very roads. With the first streaks of dawn General Bee, who, with his staff, had obtained some two hours’ rest under a tree by the road side, was moving among his troops, and the column again on the march, soon reached the banks of the Shenandoah River. While the wagon train was crossing the stream the men despatched a scanty breakfast, and then themselves fording the river waist-deep, were quickly ascending the Blue Ridge Mountains through Ashby’s Gap. The scenery of this mountain pass is beautiful beyond description, but the men who then moved along it had not time or thought for the fairest beauties of nature. There was life and death on their movements, and, more than that, there was victory or defeat to our national arms, and each man strained his every nerve in the march. On reaching Paris, at the foot of the mountains, orders were received from General Johnston, who had reached Piedmont, on the Manassas Gap railroad, directing General Bee to march with his Division directly to Manassas, while the main body of the army should proceed thither by Railroad. General Bee at once issued an order detaching and organizing his command as separate from that of Genera Johnston, and commenced his march as directed. We had proceeded but a few miles, when Captain Randolph brough orders countermanding those received at Paris, and directing a junction with General Johnston at Piedmont. This was accomplished by the close of the day. When near Piedmont, a courier was met with orders for General Bee to report himself at headquarters as soon as possible. On returning from this interview Gen. Bee said, “I would have given anything in the world could I have said to Gen. Johnston, ‘my troops are in condition to march immediately to Manassas.’” That march would have taken him, as he supposed, within reach of Patterson’s force, and successfully to execute his orders in the face of such danger and obstacle, was an honor well worth the venture. He knew, however, that his men were in no condition for such a march without rest, and could not possibly make it in the time required. They had been on their feet for twenty-eight hours, most of the time under a burning sun, and without water, and not they absolutely required rest. Therefore, though with deep regret, he found himself compelled to admit that he could not go on that night, His care and solicitude for his soldiers was remarkable. He knew their wants, and made every effort to relieve them. When his column reached Piedmont he might have been seen, regardless of the drenching rain, moving everywhere among his troops, doing everything in his power which could contribute to their comfort. His gallantry, and patriotism had a parallel only in his kindness of heart.

At three o’clock in the morning the troops were ordered on board the cars for Manassas. Of General Bee’s command the Second Mississippi, the Fourth Alabama and two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi, under Lieutenant Colonel Liddell, obtained places in the train, while Imboden, with his Battery, resumed his march for Manassas. Generals Johnston and Bee, with their respective staff officers, completed the detachment which filled the train, and we proceeded to Manassas, arriving about 9 o’clock. Colonel Bartow had preceded us the evening before, with two regiments of his brigade.

We were scarcely well clear from the cars when a report was brought in that the enemy was advancing, and General Bee received orders to march his command to Camp Walker, about three miles from Manassas, in the direction of Centreville. Here he occupied only a supporting position, and it was evident to those around that a shadow overcast the face of our General. He had hoped for a post of honor, which, in his view, was in the front and nearest the enemy.

In this position our troops bivouacked during the night of Saturday, the 20th. At about 12 o’clock that night Captain Imboden reported his Battery just in from Piedmont.

At sunrise on the 21st July the booming of the enemy’s guns awoke the echoes along our whole line, and ushered in the bloody battle of Manassas Plains. I know write only of


It was immediately evident that General Bee had not been overlooked, but that great confidence was placed in his judgement and military capacity, for at six o’clock he received orders to take his own command, with that of Colonel Bartow and Pendleton’s Battery (supposing Imboden’s too much exhausted), and move to the extreme left, in the vicinity of Stone Bridge, giving him a large discretion in co-operating with the Generals Cocke and Jackson of that wing.

Immediately on the receipt of these instructions the General sent for Captain Imboden, and said to hem, “Captain I have been ordered to take into battle a battery supposed to be fresher than yours; will you stand that?” “Not if I can help it,” was the reply. “Harness up, then,” was the order, “and I will leave my guide to bring you up.” Despatching an order to Colonel Bartow to follow, the General then placed himself at that head of the column, and with only a chart to guide him, started for his position on the extreme left. Advancing in the direction of Stone Bridge, or more directly on a line for Sudley’s Ford, he passed first General Jackson, and then General Cocke.

Upon communicating with these officers and learning their position, Gen. Bee at once perceived that the discretion in his orders, as senior officer, could be used to attack the enemy in advance of those with whom he had been directed to co operate. Disregarding, therefore, the suggestion of Gen. Jackson to take position between himself and Gen. Bonham, and directing that he (Jackson) had better extend towards Bonham, he passed on to the exposed left of General Cocke, where he rightly divined was the post of danger. Continuing to advance until the enemy came into full view, he quickly detected their extension to the right to turn our left flank, when, directing his march in a parallel directions, he checked the movement and compelled them to take position and form line of battle.

Imboden, with his battery, came up most opportunely, and was established on our left just as Rickett’s Battery of the enemy was advancing to their front. Leaving Col. Bartow with two regiments to support the gallant Imboden, the General, at the head of the 2d Mississippi and the 4th Alabama Regiments, advanced on the right whilst the two companies of the 11th Mississippi had been sent forward to the support of the battery under General Evans. The command of Gen. Evans had been engaged with the enemy as he advanced, but now fell back through our ranks. Our line was then advanced close on the enemy, and opened a terrible fire on Rickett’s Battery and the divisions under the command of Cols. Hunter and Heintzelman.

A portion of Gen. Evans’ command rallied in our rear, and returned to the charge, co-operating with our force. That General, reporting in person that a column of the enemy was about to turn our right, an order was sent to Col. Bartow to advance one regiment to the support of that point. The Colonel obeyed, and himself led the regiment into position. The 4th Alabama was thrown forward up the face of a hill, and there held their position close up, delivering a terrible fire, from which the enemy reeled and shook. The thunder of artillery, the heavy sound of bursting shells, around, above and below us, the sharp and incessant rattle of musketry, and the constant whizzing of the balls as the storm burst upon our little handful, was enough to shake the nerves of veterans; but our men stood firm, and time and again were the enemy hurled back, bleeding and shrinking from the well directed fire. But the storm raged on; and, as the advanced lines of the enemy melted away, new troops moved up to fill their places until overpowered by superior numbers. The Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels of both the Mississippi Regiments, killed or wounded, and many gallant officers besides, stretched upon the bloody field, our brave troops, unable longer to stay the tide, began slowly to give way. Gen. Bee, in the midst of the storm, was seen everywhere that the danger most threatened – riding up and down the lines; encouraging the troops by his voice and example; urging them, by all they held most dear, to stand up and resist the tide which threatened them with destruction. Forming his lines wherever the field offered an advantage, and in the last extremity falling back to a new position, for three mortal hours he bore the brunt of this terrible battle, disputing with his small force, inch by inch, the bloody ground, and only yielding to overwhelming numbers. Now our reserved began to come up. The first was a regiment unknown to us. The General at once assigned it position. Then came Hampton’s Legion. Still all were compelled to fall back until Jackson’s Brigade moved up. Riding up to the commanding officer, Gen. Bee remarked: You see, General, we have been overwhelmed by superior numbers, and driven back.” “Let them come on, sir, we will give them the bayonet,” was the reply. Confident that Jackson would do all that a brave man could do, the General turned from him, and once more forming his own command, now dwindled to a mere handful, addressed them briefly. I think he used these words: “Soldiers, you have fought gallantly, and have only been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers; now we are strongly reinforced; there is Gen. Jackson standing like a stone wall; if we determine to die here, we will conquer. Follow me!” And that devoted band did follow him to the death.

The impression made upon the writer by Gen. Bee, while delivering this brief address, is one which time cannot efface. Of commanding figure, with an eye of unusual expression and brilliancy, and a voice at once manly and commanding, as he rose in his saddle and uttered those memorable words, “If we determine to die here” – words which make him a patriot-martyr – he presented a picture truly sublime. His determination had been made, and near that spot he fell. He had passed safely through eight hard fought fields on the soil of Mexico, fearlessly exposing his life at the head of a company of the Third U. S. Infantry, fighting under the banner of what was then a great and glorious Union; but here, on his first battle field for his beloved South, fighting for her rights and her honor, he fell; fell, perhaps, by a ball from his own commanded ranged among his enemies on the bloody field. While advancing at the head of his troops, the fatal ball struck him from his horse, inflicting a mortal wound, and he was borne from the field by the officers of his staff. Though suffering severely, he roused himself on the succeeding morning and asked the fate of the day; when told that the enemy was totally routed, and expression of satisfaction passed across his features, and a few hours afterwards the spirit of the patriot soldier passed calmly away.

In the death of General Bee the country sustains the loss of a gallant and accomplished officer, and to he bereaved family and friends the loss is irreparable; but to him it was all that he would have asked. In his youth it is said he was ever fond of the quotation –

“The life that others pay let us bestow,
And give to glory what we to nature owe!”

He fell as a soldier should fall – amid the shock of battle, in a just cause, fighting for all the rights that man holds most dear, not for himself, but for us and for all that will come after us. And his bright example will teach others how do die in defence of their country’s honor. Many brave and noble spirits will follow him, but none more brave, more noble, or more worthy than General Barnard Elliott Bee.

W. P. S.

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 9/7/1861

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