Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Battle, Casualties, and Spoils

8 11 2022

Editorial Correspondence.

Battle Ground on Lewis’ Farm,
Tuesday, July 23, 1861.

Dear Courier: The present is the first opportunity I have had to write, since the awfully glorious and momentous events of Sunday, the 21st inst. And even now, I can give but a meagre, hasty, and very imperfect account of a small part of the important transactions, because we have already received orders to move.

Our Regiment left our place of bivouac, of the night previous, at 6 o’clock on Sunday morning. The cannonading commenced some half hour before this, two reports being heard once in about five minutes, in the direction of Bull’s Run, and seeming about two miles distant.

We marched round by a circuitous and zigzag course to the left, with the intention of flanking the right wing of the enemy, and attacking them. We marched at quick time, and a part of the time double-quick until ten o’clock, when opposite our place of destination, we were drawn up in a line extending back from a battery of four guns of Virginia Artillery, commanded by ——. The cannon balls from the celebrated Sherman’s Battery, soon began to fly about five or ten yards over our heads, with a whiz that was surprisingly loud. Directly bomb shells began to burst over our heads and on either side. We were ordered to lie flat down on our faces. The cannonading became very brisk. There must have been some ten or fifteen cannon playing on the 8th Regiment, and the battery we were placed to guard. At about 11 o’clock we were ordered to leave here. This order was promptly obeyed, although by rising to our feet we were in full view of the enemy’s battery, from which we had been partially protected by the brow of the hill, on which we were. We were intended to support Gen. Bee in a charge, but were led to the extreme right of the attacking force, going under the cover of the woods, between us and the enemy’s artillery. We were led up and deployed in a pine thicket, and ordered to fire. The enemy were about 100 yards, and many of them protected by stables and stacks of straw and hay, and all by a fence. The balls whizzed about us like hail in a thick storm. There were probably six thousand men firing upon our force of six hundred. Most of Col. Gardner’s command loaded lying down and rose up to fire. Our men fell with fearful rapidity. After about twenty minutes, we were ordered to fall back, to a place where the intervening ground would protect us from the enemy’s fire.

After falling back about 200 yards we halted, faced about, loaded, and again rallied upon the enemy, at the same place as the first charge. After firing one or two rounds, we discovered a large, heavy column on our right, that we had supposed to be a portion of Gen. Bee’s command, were enemies, and were carrying the stars and stripes; just then they opened fire upon us, and we were obliged to fall back again, out of this cross fire. In these fearful charges sad havoc was made in the Regiment. We then fell back, firing in retreat, and formed under Major Cooper, some 600 yards back of the pine thicket. We could then rally only about 150 men, and this remnant retired in good order from the battle-field, and as a Regiment did not return, although many individuals did, under other commands.

Col. Bartow, acting as Brigadier General, was killed. A more intrepid, brave, and gallant man never lived. Col. Gardner had his leg broken in the first charge, and was left on the field, because he would not suffer the men to stop in that fearful place to carry him off. He was taken prisoner, but afterwards released by the enemy when they retreated, upon condition that he would have six or eight wounded Yankees cared for, and sent home with their arms.

Adjutant Branch of our Regiment was killed.

The following is the loss in the Rome Light Guards: C. B. Norton, G. T. Stovall, James B. Clarke, Dr. Duane and D. C. Hargrove killed.

Anderson, Stevenson, McOaker and Howard, severely wounded. Capt. Magruder wounded in the left arm.

The following are slightly wounded: AJ. J. Beardern, R. W. Boggs, J. D. Jones, G. L. Aycock and J. T. Shackelford.

The missing are John Black, Wm. Barron, T. McGrath, M. A. Ross and J. B Payne. It is supposed that most or perhaps all these were taken prisoners.

Of the Miller Rifles Thos. Mobley and Frank Lathrop were killed.

Thos. Hills was wounded probably fatally, and O. B. Ever, severely, W. A. King had his wright arm shot off about the elbow. Lewis Yarbrough is probably fatally wounded. Ben Price and Wm. Ware are slightly wounded.

In the Floyd Infantry, Aaron Harshaw, F. M. Madrey, Wammack and Chastain are killed. Capt. Cooper, Geo. Martin, O. M. Porter, H. Burns and Holbrook severely wounded.

Who are missing from the Rifles or Infantry I have not learned.

I have to close this hasty letter.

Notwithstanding the great loss a most glorious victory was won by the Confederate forces. The field is ours. We have taken forty two cannon, including Sherman’s Battery, over hundred baggage wagons, and any amount of Baggage and pursued the enemy to Fairfax Court House.

We spent yesterday – a very rainy day in hunting up the dead and burying them. They were decently intered and the funeral service read.

The loss of killed and wounded in the 8th Ga. Regiment is probably about 200, or one -third the men engaged in the Battle. The entire Confederate loss is believed to be about twelve or fifteen hundred in killed and wounded.

The enemies loss between two and three thousand. We took a large number of prisoners say 500 or 600.

Gen. Bee was killed, as also Co. Fisher, of one of the Virginia Regiments, and Capt. Howard of the Echols Guards Meriwether county Georgia.

The general estimates I have made of the losses of both sides, are quite vague and unsatisfactory to myself even.

If our readers knew the circumstances under which this letter is written they would be more disposed than otherwise to excuse its want of systematic order.

Clarke, Duane and Hargrove were buried on the field near where they fell. Norton and Stovall were carried to Manassas Junction, some six miles from the battle field, and will be buried there or sent home.

Our entire force marched out for this battle was said to be about thirty thousand. That the enemy is variously stated from fifty to one hundred thousand. Most of our army has already moved forward and the balance will go soon towards Washington City.

M. D.

Camp near the Battle Ground,
8 o’clock P. M., Tuesday, July 23.

Dear Courier: Since writing this morning, I have gathered some further particulars in regard to the glorious victory of the 21st. As the facts are made known, the complete route of the enemy, and the utter confusion into which they were thrown, becomes more and more evident. Instead of getting forty-two of their cannon, sixty-four have already been brought in, and there is reason to suppose that still more may be found, provided this number does not include all they had. Our troops, detailed for that purpose, have been finding them all day, run off, in concealed places, by the roadside. In addition to the cannon, it is reported that the road leading to Alexandria is literally lined with muskets, rifles, Minnie muskets, &c., &c. This morning twenty-seven of Lincoln’s officers, including several of Staff, were sent to Richmond as prisoners of war.

The sneaking cunning, and perfidious meanness of our enemies was exhibited on the day of battle, by their using a flag, one side of which, represented the colors of the Confederate States, and the other those of the United States. It was the use of this that our Regiments was so badly cut up. The column that flanked us showed the Confederate Flag until they got to the position where they could do us the greatest possible injury, then turned to us the Federal side and fired. For doing this when they sent the flag of truce to Gen. Beauregard, asking for the privilege of gathering up and burying their dead, it was denied. How can they expect any courtesy when they this set at defiance all rules of civilized warfare? – The low spirit that governs them and their miscreancy was also exhibited on the 19th, when having leave to bury their dead of the 18th, they made use of the truce in throwing up barricades and breast works.

A. J. Bearden was taken prisoner and carried some four miles from the battle ground. This was after our Regiment had fallen back. He was carried to the headquarters of the enemy, and there saw a large number of gentlemen from Washington City, New York and other places, eating, drinking and carousing over itheiri victory. – Not long after, news came that their army was retreating, and our cavalry was in hot pursuit. Then ensued a scene of indescribably confusion among this white kid gentry in their efforts to secure their personal safety by flight. When our cavalry came up, Bearden claimed his own freedom, and took captive the Captain who had been guarding him. Chas. Harper, of the Miller rifles, was taken prisoner, and with two or three others, was guarded by six of the Hessians. After a while, more prisoners were put in the care of the same guard, so that their number exceeded that of the hirelings holding them, our boys watched their opportunity, snatched their guardian’s guns and took them all prisoners. Another instance in which the tables were turned on them occurred with a member of our company, Robert DeJournett. He was on the retreat when a mounted officer, supposed to be a Colonel, rode up to within 15 or 20 paces, and cried out, “your life! your life! you young rebel.” DeJournett turned, raised his gun, and shot him through, while the officer was attempting to draw his pistol, and DeJournett made a hasty retreat to safety, though a volley of muskets were fired at him.

It is now certain that John Black, Marcus Ross and John Payne were taken prisoners and carried off. McGrath came in to-day unharmed. This accounts for all the Light Guards. No prisoners were carried off from the Miller Rifles. Several of the Federal prisoners have told us that they had expected to be hung as soon as the battle was over. They have been taught to believe that the Southerners are a set of complete barbarians.

Wm. Martin, of the Floyd Infantry, died last night. Howard, McOaker, and Anderson, of our company, have been sent to Gordonsville. They were doing well.

Our Regiment has not yet re-organized, and we did not move to-day. As was anticipated. We were all very glad to see Rev. John Jones when he came into camp today.

It is said that the Lincolnites have taken Washington City. They certainly by report, hold no place this side of Alexandria.

M. D.

Rome (GA) Tri-Weekly Courier, 8/1/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Melvin Dwinell was the editor of the Rome Tri-Weekly Courier

Melvin Dwinell at

Melvin Dwinell at Fold3

Melvin Dwinell at FindAGrave

Vermonter in Gray: The Story of Melvin Dwinell

More on Melvin Dwinell herehere, and here



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