E. B. W., Madison Light Artillery, 49th Virginia Infantry, On the Eve of Battle

9 12 2022

Letter from Manassas.


The following interesting letter was written on the morning of the 18th, just before the battle commenced. It of course gives no particulars of the fight, but is shows the kind of spirit that animated our troops, and the eagerness with which they awaited the attack:


Manassas Junction,
Prince William County, Virginia.
July 18th, 1861.

Dear Citizen: – Fort Pickens is about one mile east of Manassas Junction, on a beautiful, lovely plain, surrounded with mounds or little hills, dotting the perspective in every direction. These mounds nature has distributed for useful purposes, and upon them are stationed our batteries, commanded every approach of an enemy, and woe be to him who shall have the temerity to attack us either with infantry, cavalry or artillery, for we have large guns in battery at every point, and we have brave, stout, determined hearts to man them, who are determined to conquer or die in the effort. Far be it for me to disparage any soldiers here, but one thing is certain, Captain G. V. Moody’s company are vastly superior to them all in physical power and equal to any, and in patriotism and in cool, determined courage are as impetuous as the most impulsive – and I predict that they will give a good account of themselves to our friends, and a lesson to our enemies that they will never forget in all time to come. A few days ago, when we were at the battery for drill, one of our men asked of the drill officer “if he wanted him to shoulder that fun” pointing to a thirty-two pounder, and indeed the private, Michael Ryan, who asked the question could come nearer doing it than any man in the army, unless it is one some one of his own company.

Our company handle the large field pieces in the batteries with perfect ease and never tire – those men are just suited for the position assigned them, and our Captain and Lieutenants are just the men to lead us to victory – but never to defeat, for be assured that we will perish in the last ditch and the last man before we will be driven from our position, or surrender a single gun to the enemy. “We never surrender.” The greatest enthusiasm prevails through the whole encampment. I took a stroll through the camp a day or two ago, and was struck with some of the mottos upon the camp: one was “Weep not for me.” “The devil take the hindmost.” “We have a burning care for Seward, Scott, Lincoln & Co., and expect to be present when they shall be compelled to shuffle off the mortal coil.” “We are the posse to suppress disorder and restore peace.” I might fill a sheet with them but have given you enough to show the spirit of the soldiers here.

There were five prisoners brought in by our men yesterday – there is not a day or night passes without our gallant men making prisoners of Lincoln’s soldiers; one brought in yesterday was bare footed – in the number there were some Lieutenants and non-commissioned officers and privates.

The enemy is approaching cautiously, as he can. It is said that they are within sixteen or seventeen miles of us, and approaching by their columns. We are ready and trust that they will not delay us until we must exclaim “the long looked for has arrived.” I think our guests will not be pleased with their reception, the booming of cannon and the gleaming of our sabers and bayonets will be more than our enemies can stand.

I will give you the earliest account of the appearance of our foe and the foe of God and man, and how terribly we punished them – for this is as certain as they make their appearance.

I would ask that the citizens of the South, would remember that her defenders who are now in the field, and in a much colder climate than they have been accustomed to [*], and require clothing suited to the climate and the seasons. If we have to winter here, we will want thick heave clothing, shoes, and blankets, for we suffer here now at nights with cold, having nothing but one blanked out of which we have to make our bed and covering. We are stationary here, and anything sent directed to me to the care of Captain George V. Moody, for our company shall be faithfully distributed. It is due to this company that they should be remembered by the citizens of Madison parish, La. It would cost but a small sum to each planter, and it would have a very beneficial effect in keeping the soldiers happy and contented in camp, inspiring them with additional courage and enthusiasm. They have contributed largely to the erection of batteries and the throwing up of the works of defense. These brave men have left no relatives behind them that have the means to anticipate and supply their wants or protect them against the suffering incident to a campaign.

I have made the suggestions, and hope they may meet your approval and that through your valuable paper and the other papers of your city their importance may be urged and impressed upon the generous citizens of the South for the benefit of all her soldiers.

My love to all inquiring friends, and accept for yourself and prosperity my best wishes.

Your friend,
E. G. W.


P. S. The ball opened at Fairfax Court House this morning. Great excitement in camp, and soldiers hurrying to and fro, and starting to join their brethren. When the news reached here, not half an hour ago, the welkin rang with the enthusiastic shouts of men yearning for the fight, and the companies serving in the batteries only regret that they cannot be doing service. But our chance will come soon unless they are beaten back. I hope they may reach here so that we can annihilate them and convince them that we can and will whip them.

I have opened my letter just to give you the latest news in camp. The music is calling to arms whilst I write. We are still undaunted – three regiments taking up the line of march to Fairfax. God speed them. I will write you the result of the day’s conflict to night.

E. G. W.

The Vicksburg (MS) Weekly Citizen, 7/29/1861

Clipping image

From firstbullrun.co.uk: The company was temporarily assigned to the 49th Virginia Infantry at Battery N, within the entrenched naval batteries at Camp Pickens, Manassas Junction, Prince William County, Virginia, by Special Orders No.122, Paragraph I, Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, Camp Pickens, Manassas Junction, Prince William County, Virginia, on 16 July, 1861

*The Madison Artillery was a Louisiana battery.

George V. Moody at Ancestry.com

George V. Moody at Fold3

George V. Moody at FindAGrave

George V. Moody at Antietam on the Web

George V. Moody at Behind Antietam on the Web

Madison Light Artillery at Wikipedia



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: