Lt. Melvin Dwinell, Co. A, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Advance to Manassas and Casualties

30 11 2022

Camp Bartow, near Manassas,
August 5, 1861.

Dear Courier: It has been several days since I have written to you mainly for the reason that I have quite fully experienced the wonderful state of exhaustion and debility – amounting to almost complete prostration – consequent to the great and indescribable exertions, both physical and mental, of the glorious 21st. Every person has experienced to some extent a sense of vacuity and extraordinary excitements. By multiplying this a thousand fold, some idea may be formed of the prostrate condition of our Regiment since the memorable battle of Manassas. With resolute men, the ability to endure increases to a marvelous extent, with the accumulation of exciting causes; but after these causes are removed, the natural depression, that follows, is as much below the ordinary equilibrium as it had been carried above. Since that “day so foul and fair,” until the past few days, when the men had began to brighten up, the ordinary routine of camp duties have seemed idle formalities, altogether frivolous, and they were reluctantly performed with feelings of repugnance that amount almost to disgust.

As the little glowing description of the march og Gen. Johnston’s command from Winchester to this place, seems, from its non-publication, to have been lost, and in order that our condition upon the day of battle may be better understood. I will now give a few of the leading facts: On Thursday July 18th, five Regiments, including the 2d, had orders to march from Winchester. Our Regiment left camp at 1 o’clock P.M., without dinner, and only food enough in our haversacks for one meal. When a half mile out of town, we were told that the march was to Manassas. Arrived at Millwood at 6 o’clock, and to the Shannandoah River, thirteen miles from Winchester, at 9 o’clock. Four hours were consumed by the army, in fording the river. Passed the Blue Ridge through Paris Gap, and arrived at that town distant from the river, five miles, at 3 o’clock A.M., on Friday; here lay down on the ground, without blankets, and rested three hours, then resumed the march to Piedmont Station, on the Manassas Gap Railroad – distance five miles – where we arrived at 9 o’clock. Our wagons came up about noon and we got a very good dinner, ready at three o’clock. From 7 P.M., till 2 A.M. Saturday, we were on the cars between Piedmont and Manassas – detained by the rascality of the conductor, who was believed to have been bribed by the enemy, and who has since been shot.

My letter published in the Courier on the 30th ult., gives an account of our movements of Saturday. We marched not less than ten miles on the morning of the battle.

From breakfast Thursday morning, until after the battle on Sunday, the men of the Regiment received about sufficient food for two full meals. In this time they marched 35 miles – fording the Shannandoah, and crossing the Blue Ridge – and were for several hours, crowded in the most uncomfortable manner in the cars.

I have been this particular in reporting our movements, because it has been intimated by some few who did not know the facts, that the survivors in the 8th Georgia Regiment broke down very soon after the bloody charge.

I saw a statement a few days since in a communication in the Richmond Dispatch, that the Oglethorpe Light Infantry occupied the right of the Regiment in the charge in the pine thicket. The falsity of this statement is only equaled by the presumption of the writer.

Below is an accurate statement of the numbers entering the battle of the 21st, from the various companies of the 8th Georgia Regiment, and of the killed, wounded and prisoners:

No.K’dW’dPr’s
A. Rome Light Guards565142
B. Oglethorpe L’t In’ry835253
C. Macon Guards624162
D. Echols Guards422111
E. Miller Rifles372150
F. Atlanta Greys763207
G. Pulaski Volunteers364140
H. Floyd Infantry404120
I. Stephens L’t Guards787131
K. Oglethorpe Rifles330160
Total5433615616

Gen. Samuel Jones, who has been appointed to command our Brigade for a few months, had charge of the Institute at Marietta, Ga. We, as yet, have no Lieutenant Colonel. A. R. Harper is acting as Adjutant, and Lieutenant Reese is acting Quartermaster of the Regiment. Our Brigade – the 7th, 8th, and 9th Georgia Regiments and Ky. Battalion – is now encamped 2 miles N.E. from Manassas. Our regular drills were resumed three days since.

Lieut. G. R. Lumpkin has resigned on account of ill health. He was an excellent officer and much beloved by the company. Z. B. Hargrove and Marion Ezzel have applied for, and will doubtless receive honorable discharges, on the ground of chronic ill health; also, McOsker, on account of his wounds, Howard, Anderson, and Stephenson, will probably get furloughs for 60 days on account of their wounds, and Ross for 30 days.

Several applications for discharges and furloughs will be made by members of the Miller Rifles and Floyd Infantry, but I have not time to go around and learn their names.

Rev. John Jones preached to us yesterday an excellent sermon. He will hold prayer meetings every evening, at eight o’clock, as long as he remains in camp.

There is considerable sickness in the Floyd county companies, but none are considered dangerous.

Of the general movement of our Army, you can learn more at your various homes than we can here in camp.

M. D.

From Dear Courier: The Civil War Correspondence of Editor Melvin Dwinell, pp. 62-64

Melvin Dwinell at Ancestry.com

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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