Image: Capt. Barton Stone Alexander, Chief Engineer, Tyler’s Division

6 11 2020




Image: Capt. Edward Porter Alexander, Signal Officer, Army of the Potomac

10 07 2020
EdwardPAlexander

E. P. Alexander as Colonel (Source)

Cadet1

USMA Cadet E. P. Alexander (Source)

 





Capt. Edward Porter Alexander, Signal Officer, Army of the Potomac, On the Signal Corps in the Campaign

9 07 2020

THE FIRST SIGNAL MESSAGE.
—————
It Was Sent at Bull Run by Gen. E. P. Alexander, C. S. A.
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BY. BRIG. GEN. E. P. ALEXANDER, C. S. A.
—————

In September, 1859, I was a Second Lieutenant of Engineers, U. S. Army, and was on duty with the Corps of Cadets at West Point as Assistant Instructor in Practical Engineering. Here, on Sunday morning. I became acquainted with Dr. Albert J. Meyer, Assistant Surgeon, U. S. A., and learned from him of the system of military signals which he had devised and which he was then under order to develop and bring into practical operation.

Surgeon Meyer had been authorized also to select some young officer to assist him in his experiments, and our accidental acquaintanceship resulted in his making application for me to be relieved from duty at West Point and assigned to duty with him.

This was done, and I remained on duty with Surgeon Myer from Oct. 3, 1859, until March, 1860. The first three months were spent about New York Harbor, experimenting and perfecting our apparatus by daily and nightly signals, between Fort Hamilton, on the Narrows, and Sandy Hook, and Navesink Highlands. Then, everything being satisfactory, we went to Washington and exhibited the system to the Military Committees of the House and Senate, which resulted in the passage of a law creating a Signal Corps, of which Surgeon A. J. Myer was the head, with rank of Major.

I, at my own request, was returned to duty in my old corps, where I continued to serve until after the secession of Georgia, my native State. On May 1, 1861, I resigned, being then on duty at San Francisco, and I returned East via Panama, and arrived in Richmond on June 1.

WITH THE CONFEDERATE ARMY AT MANASSAS.

Confederate armies were being formed at that time in West Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, at Manassas Junction, at Yorktown, and at Norfolk. On my arrival I was promoted Captain of Engineers, and several applications were made for me for different positions; but President Davis had been Chairman of the Military Committee of the Senate when Maj. Myer and I had appeared before it, on a number of occasions, exhibiting the military signals; so he refused all applications to me, and after making me put in operations a little factory of flags, torches, etc., on July 1, I was ordered to take myself and my system of signals to the army of Gen. Beauregard at Manassas Junction.

On June 24, Gen. McDowell had submitted to the War Department a plan for an advance upon Manassas Junction, to be begun on July 8, which had been accepted. Most fortunately for the Confederates, however, the Federal army, with all its resources, was not ready to start until July 16. Twenty miles of marching, and a preliminary skirmish, and only on July 21 was the battle delivered.

ORGANIZING A SIGNAL CORPS.

On my arrival at Manassas, July 2, 1861, I really had much more time to install my system of signals than I expected; for “rumors of the foe’s advance” now swelled upon almost every breeze, and I lost no time. I had brought with me from Richmond all the necessary flags, torches, glasses, etc., and the first thing was to select men. I soon made acquaintances among the officers, and got the names of about 15 young privates who might later be promoted as Signal Officers, and I had them detailed and assigned to me for duty. They were at once put upon a course of instruction and practice.

Meanwhile I procured a horse, and between times began an exploration of the country which was to be our theater of action, to find out what facilities it offered to establish lines of signal.

The topography was very far from favorable; the country was generally flat and gently rolling. There were but few large bodies of woods, but very many medium sized ones, and very much second growth pine. Our line of battle had been chosen along the stream of Bull Run, about three miles north of Manassas, and the course of the stream was generally wooded and bordered with small fields and pastures, giving very few open stretches. I was not at all sanguine that I would be able to render any valuable service, but, fortunately, I had the time to make a thorough search of the whole country, and as will be seen, one line which I opened up disclosed the vital secret of the enemy’s strategy in time to allow it to be successfully met.

LOCATING SIGNAL STATIONS.

About a mile east of the little village of Manassas, on the farm of a Mr. Wilcoxen, I found a high, rocky point, covered with cedars, but having a good outlook over a valley to the north and west. I made this point a central station, and by clearing it off, and by some clearing at other points, I got two straight six-mile ranges; one northwest to a bluff over Bull Run Valley, on our extreme left, a short way above the Stone Bridge (by which the Warrenton Turnpike crossed Bull Run), and the other north to Centerville, about three miles beyond the Run, opposite our center. Another station was found near the Run, opposite our right center; and a fourth near our headquarters in the village. This was the utmost that the topography permitted, and I established them and set the men to practicing by day and by night.

It is not necessary for me to refer to the operations preceding the 21st. Early that morning McDowell’s turning column was approaching Sudley Ford, two miles above the Confederate left at Stone Bridge; and after a very early breakfast, Gens. Beauregard and Johnston, with their united staffs, started to the front opposite their center. They had sent orders to Ewell, on their extreme right, to advance and turn the enemy’s left, but these orders miscarried in some way, and were never received; consequently there was no action on our center, which was waiting in vain for the right to begin, and ample time was allowed McDowell’s turning column to complete its long march and make the fight upon our left.

And now I may introduce the incident which this paper records in detail for the first time.

As the rather large party, with an escort of couriers, moved down the road soon after breakfast, Gen. Beauregard called me to him, and directed me to take a courier and go to my central signal station on the hill near Wilcoxen’s house, and to remain there in general observation and to send him messages about anything that could be seen. I was far from pleased at the receipt of this order, for I had hoped to accompany the two Generals throughout the day, and the chances of seeing anything important from this place seemed infinitely small. There was no help for it, however, and Beauregard deserves credit for the thought of taking every possible means of acquiring prompt information. If we had had a balloon this would have been the time to send it up.

By rare food luck the Wilcoxen Hill had a particularly good outlook beyond the Stone Bridge. From it could be seen our signal station on the bluff in rear of Stone Bridge, six miles off, and then beyond that for miles the level valley of Upper Bull Run, with its fields, fences, pastures, etc., was foreshortened into one narrow band of green. I arrived on Wilcoxen’s Hill about 8 a. m. After a careful study, I fixed the glass upon the Stone Bridge station and got from the operator there some details about the developments of the morning.

M’DOWELL’S FLANKING COLUMN DISCOVERED.

While I was reading the motions of his flag, the sun being low in the east, and I looking toward the west, from up in the narrow band of green above the flag, the faintest twinkle of light caught my eye. My eyes were always remarkably quick and good, and I had had long training with a glass. It was but a single flash, but the color was that of brass, and the shape a horizontal line. It could be nothing but the reflection of the morning sun from the side of a brass gun. I brought my glass very carefully to bear exactly, and presently made out a little swarm of still fainter glitters, and I knew that it was a column of bright musket barrels and bayonets.

It was about 8:45 a. m., and I had discovered McDowell’s turning column, the head of which at this hour was just arriving at Sudley, eight miles away. I at once appreciated how much it might mean, and I thought it best to give Gen. Evans, in command at the Stone Bridge, immediate notice, even before sending word to Beauregard. So I signalled Evans quickly, “Look out for your left; you are turned.” Gen. Evans afterwards told me that the pickets which he had at Sudley, being driven in by the enemy’s advance guard, had sent a messenger, and the two messengers, one with my warning and one with the report of the picket, reached him simultaneously. The two reports coming together from different sources, thoroughly impressed him with the gravity of the situation, and he acted immediately and with excellent judgement. He left four companies of his command to occupy the enemy (Tyler and his three brigades) in his own front, and with the remainder of his force (six companies of the 4th S. C. and Wheat’s La. Battalion), he marched to oppose and delay the turning column, sending word at the same time of his movement to Col. Cocke, next on his right. In his official report Evans warmly thanks Col. Robt. Wheat (who had been an old Filibuster) for sound advice on the field, and I have no doubt that Wheat was consulted and advised with here. Poor fellow, he fought as well as advised, and fell shout through both lungs. He recovered, but in his next fight, Gaines’s Mill, 11 months later, he fell, leading a charge and could only exclaim: “Bury me on the field, boys.”

Having sent Evans my brief notice of his immediate danger, I wrote a note to Gen. Beauregard, which I can quote, I believe, verbatim, as it was framed after my idea of what the reports of reconnoitering officers should be – the exact mathematical truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I kept no copy of it, but its impression upon my own brain was very vivid, and it was about as follows: “I see a body of troops crossing Bull Run about two miles above the Stone Bridge. The head of the column is in the woods on this side. The rear of the column in in the woods on the other side. About a half mile of its length is visible in the open ground in between. I can see both infantry and artillery.”

When I had it written, it looked very tame for notice of the great event I took it to be: but I gave it to my courier and sent him off at a gallop, with some two and a half miles to go.

Untitled

SEASONABLE AND MATERIAL ASSISTANCE.

Gen. Beauregard, in his report of the battle, does not mention the receipt of this note, but says generally that I gave him “seasonable and material assistance early in the day with the system of my signals.”

Gen. Johnston is a little more explicit, and says: “About 8 o’clock, Gen. Beauregard and I placed ourselves on a commanding hill in rear of Gen. Bonham’s left. Near 9 o’clock the Signal Officer, Capt. Alexander, reported that a very large body of troops was crossing the Valley of Bull Run, some two miles above the bridge. Gen. Bee, who had been placed near Col. Cocke’s position; Col. Hampton, with his legion, and Col Jackson, from a point near Gen. Bonham’s left, were ordered to hasten to the left flank.”

Bee’s force comprised the 4th Ala., 2d Miss., and the 7th and 8th Ga. The Hampton Legion was one regiment, and Jackson had five regiments, the 2d, 4th, 5th, 27th and 33d Va. So in all, 10 regiments, with an average distance of about three miles to go, were now en route to reinforce Evans with his one regiment and a half.

I need proceed no further in the history of this battle, though it included the sending of several other signals, and other matters of interest which concerned our knowledge of what was taking place.

It is known of all men that the delay made by the troops above mentioned gave time for the arrival of the brigades of Early and Kirby Smith and two regiments of Burnham’s, and that their arrival changed the defeat into victory. As the sending of these troops to the left was caused by the timely warning of the approach of the enemy upon that flank; it must fairly be attributed to the operation of the system of signals. And as to the value of that victory in moral effect upon the Confederate army and people, those who have fully appreciated the immense power given by “morale” to any army, will realize that that victory laid a foundation of morale without which our subsequent victories – prolonging the war for four years – would have been almost, if not quite, impossible.

The National Tribune, 1/8/1903

Clipping Image

Contributed by Michael Pellegrini

Edward Porter Alexander at Wikipedia 

Edward Porter Alexander at Ancestry.com 

Edward Porter Alexander at Fold3 

Edward Porter Alexander at FindAGrave 





Image: Capt. John Dabney Alexander, Alexander’s Troop, 30th Virginia Cavalry

26 04 2017

 

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Capt. John Dabney “Captain Jack” Alexander; Carte de visite by Tanner & VanNess of Lynchburg, Virginia, about 1861-1862. Collection of William A. Turner. Courtesy of Military Images Magazine

 





Major Alexander Warner, 3rd Connecticut Infantry, On Dr. John McGregor at the Battle

15 09 2016

Camp Keyes, Washington

August 1st, 1861.

Mr. J. McGregor:

Dear Sir,

Your letter came to hand last evening, and I hasten to give you the information you desire. Your son, Dr. McGregor, was surgeon of our regiment. The morning of July 21st, he went with his regiment to the battle field, and there stopped at a house which was to be used as a hospital for our wounded. He remained there through the day, faithfully attending his duties. When the retreat was ordered, I rode up to the hospital. The doctor came to the door, all besmeared with blood. I told him that a retreat was ordered, and, for his own safety, he had better leave at once. He asked me if there was any preparation for removing the wounded men. I told him there was not. He then turned and went into the hospital. As he turned, he said, ‘Major, I cannot leave the wounded men, and I shall stay with them, and let the result follow.’ That was the last time I saw him, and I did not know what had become of him until, a day or two ago, a prisoner, belonging to the fourth Maine regiment, made his escape from Manassas; and he saw the doctor there, attending to our wounded men. I have no doubt but that, in due time, the doctor will return to us. I am very happy to be able to give you the above information as to the whereabouts of your son: and anything I can do for you in relation to him, I shall be most happy to do. We miss the doctor very much, as he was highly respected by all of our regiment. I shall see the doctor’s wife as soon as I get home, and give her all the particulars. If there is anything I can do for you, in any way, please let me know.

Yours very truly,

Alexander Warner,

Major of the third Connecticut regiment

Part of this letter posted to Manassas National Battlefield Park Facebook Page, 9/15/2016

Biographical Sketch of Dr. John McGregor

Life and Deeds of Dr. John McGregorthis full letter is transcribed on pp. 39-40





Preview – Alexander, “Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg”

6 05 2015

51At1BPGMzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Breakthrough at Petersburg has a special interest for me, because my great-grandfather, John B. Smeltzer, a private in the 205th PA Infantry/9th Corps, was wounded there (see here.) So when I received Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg, March 25 – April 2, 1865, by Edward S. Alexander, I was pretty excited to see how the action was described. This is an entry in Savas Beatie’s Emerging Civil War series, and exhibits those features with which we have become accustomed: Hal Jesperson maps (7 of them); 129 pages of text taking the reader from the beginning of the siege through the fall of Petersburg; plentiful period and current photographs; orders of battle; field fortifications definitions; and an appendix on Pamplin Historical Park. Nice and compact. However, this study suffers from what afflicts most studies of the Breakthrough: it stops with 6th Corps and does not continue to the right to cover 9th Corps. Is this some sort of conspiracy? Does it have anything to do with the fact that 9th Corps operations took place outside the current boundaries of Pamplin Park? I have my foil hat ready for the investigation…





Correspondent Peter Wellington Alexander On the Battle

5 10 2013

The Battle of Manassas

Army of the Potomac,

Manassas, July 22, 1861

Yesterday, the 21st day of July, 1861, a great battle was fought and a great victory won by the Confederate troops. Heaven smiled upon our arms, and the God of battles crowned our banners with the laurels of glory. Let every patriotic heart give thanks to the Lord of Hosts for the victory He has given His people on His holy day, the blessed Sabbath.

Gen. Johnston had arrived the preceding day with about half the force he had, detailed from Winchester, and was the senior officer in command. He magnanimously insisted, however, that Gen. Beauregard’s previous plan should be carried out, and he was guided entirely by the judgement and superior local knowledge of the latter. While, therefore, Gen. Johnston was nominally in command, Beauregard was really the officer and hero of the day. You will be glad to learn that he was this day advanced from a Brigadier to the rank of full General. But to the battle.

At half-past six in the morning, the enemy opened fire from a battery planted on a hill beyond Bull’s Run, and nearly opposite the center of our lines. The battery was intended merely to “beat the bush.” and to occupy our attention, while he moved a heavy column towards the Stone Bridge, over the same creek, upon our left. At 10 o’clock, another battery was pushed forward, and opened fire a short distance to the left of the other, and near the road leading North to Centreville. This was a battery of rifled guns, and the object of its fire was the same as that of the other. They fired promiscuously into the woods and gorges in this, the Southern side of Bull’s Run, seeking to create the impression thereby that our center would be attacked, and thus prevent us from sending reinforcements to our left, where the real attack was to be made. Beauregard was not deceived by the maneuver.

It might not be amiss to say, that Bull’s Run, or creek, is North of this place, and runs nearly due east, slightly curving around the Junction, the nearest part of which is about 3 1/2 miles. The Stone Bridge is some 7 miles distant, in a northwesterly direction, upon which our left wing rested. Mitchel’s ford is directly North, distant four miles, by the road leading to Centreville, which is seven miles from the Junction. Our right is Union Mills, on the same stream, where the Alexandria and Manassas railroad crosses the Run, and distant four miles. Proceeding from Fairfax Court House, by Centreville, to Stone Bridge, the enemy passed in front of our entire line, but at a distance ranging from five to two miles.

At 9 o’clock, I reached an eminence nearly opposite the two batteries mentioned above, and which commanded a full view of the country for miles around, except on the right. From this point I could trace the movements of the approaching hosts by the clouds of dust that rose high above the surrounding hills. Our left, under Brigadier-General Evans, Jackson and Cocke, and Col. Bartow, with the Georgia Brigade, composed of the 7th and 8th regiments, had been put in motion, and was advancing upon the enemy with a force of about 15,000 while the enemy himself was advancing upon our left with a compact column of at least 50,000. His entire force on this side of the Potomac is estimated at 75,000. These approaching columns encountered each other at 11 o’clock.

Meanwhile, the two batteries in front kept up their fire upon the wooded hill where they supposed our center lay. They sent occasional balls, from their rifled cannon, to the eminence where your correspondent stood. Gens. Beauregard, Johnston and Bonham reached this point at 12, and one of these balls passed directly over and very near them, and plunged into the ground  a few paces from where I stood. I have the ball now, and hope to be able to show it to you at some future day. It is an 18-pound ball, and about 6 inches long. By the way, this thing of taking notes amidst a shower of shells and balls is more exciting than pleasant. At a quarter past 12, Johnston and Beauregard galloped rapidly forward in the direction of Stone Bridge, where the ball had now fully opened. You correspondent followed their example, and soon reached a position in front of the battlefield.

The artillery were the first to open fire, precisely at 11 o’clock. By half-past 11, the infantry had engaged, and there it was that the battle began to rage. The dusky columns which had thus far marked the approach of the two armies, now mingled with great clouds of smoke, as it rose from the flashing guns below, and the two shot up together like a huge pyramid of red and blue. The shock was tremendous, as were the odds between the two forces. With what anxious hearts did we watch the pyramid of smoke and dust! When it moved to the right, we knew the enemy were giving way; and when it moved to the left, we knew that our friends were receding. Twice the pyramid moved to the right, and as often returned. At last, about two o’clock, it began to move slowly to the left, and this it continued to move for two mortal hours. The enemy was seeking to turn our left flank, and to reach the railroad leading hence in the direction of Winchester. To do this, he extended his lines, which he was able to do by reason of his great numbers. This was unfortunate for us, as it required a corresponding extension of our own lines to prevent his extreme right from outflanking us – a movement on our part which weakened the force of our resistance along the whole line of battle, which finally extended over a space of two miles. It also rendered it more difficult to bring up reinforcements, as the further the enemy extended his right, the greater the distance reserve forces had to travel to counteract the movement.

This effort to turn our flank was pressed with great determination for five long, weary hours, during which the tide of battle ebbed and flowed along the entire line with alternate fortunes. The enemy’s column continued to stretch away to the left, like a huge anaconda, seeking to envelope us within its mighty folds and crush us to death; and at one time it really looked as if he would succeed. But here let me pause to  explain why it was our reinforcements were so late in arriving, and why a certain other important movement was miscarried.

The moment he discovered the enemy’s order of battle, Gen. Beauregard, it is said, dispatched orders to Gen. Ewell, on our extreme right, to move forward and turn his left and rear. At the same time he ordered Generals Jones, Longstreet, and Bonham, occupying the center of our lines, to cooperate in this movement, but not to move until Gen. Ewell had made the attack. The order to Gen. Ewell unfortunately miscarried. The others were delivered, but as the movements of the center were to be regulated entirely by those on the right, nothing was done at all. Had the orders to Gen. Ewell been received and carried out, and our entire force brought upon the field, we should have destroyed the enemy’s army almost literally. Attacked in front, on the flank and in the rear, he could not possibly have escaped, except at the loss of thousands of prisoners and all his batteries, while the field would have been strewed with his dead.

Finding that his orders had in some way failed to be executed, Gen. Beauregard at last ordered up a portion of the forces which were intended to co operate with General Ewell. It was late, however, before these reinforcements came up. Only one brigade reached the field before the battle was won. This was led by Gen. E. K. Smith, of Florida, formerly of the United States Army, and was a part of General Johnston’s column from Winchester. They should have reached here the day before, but were prevented by an accident on the railroad. They dashed on the charge with loud shouts and in the most gallant style. About the same time, Maj. Elzey coming down the railroad from Winchester with the last of Johnston’s brigades, and hearing the firing, immediately quit the train and struck across the country, and as a gracious fortune would have it, he encountered the extreme right of the enemy as he was feeling his way around our flank, and with his brigade struck him like a thunderbolt, full in the face. Finding he was about to be outflanked himself, the enemy gave way after the second fire. Meanwhile, Beauregard rallied the center and dashed into the very thickest of the fight, and after him rushed our own brave boys, with a shout that seemed to shake the very earth. The result of this movement from three distinct points, was to force back the enemy, who began to retreat, first in good order, and finally in much confusion. At this point the cavalry were ordered upon the pursuit. The retreat now became a perfect rout, and it is reported that the flying legions rushed past Centreville in the direction of Fairfax, as if the earth had been opening behind them. It was when Gen. Beauregard led the final charge, that his horse was killed by a shell.

We captured thirty-four guns, including Sherman’s famous battery, a large number of small arms, thirty wagons loaded with provisions, &c., and about 700 prisoners. Among the latter, were Col. Corcoran, of the New York Irish Zouaves, Hon. Mr. Ely, member of Congress, from New York, Mr. Carrington, of this State, a nephew of the late Wm. C. Preston, who had gone over to the enemy, and thirty-two Captains, Lieutenants, &c. We cam near bagging the Hon. Mr. Foster, Senator from Connecticut.

The official reports of the casualties of the day have not yet come in, and consequently it is impossible to say what our loss is. I can only venture an opinion, and that is, that we lost in killed, wounded and missing, about 1,500 – of which about 400 were killed. The enemy’s loss was terrible, being at the lowest calculation, 3,000.

Thus far I have said but little of the part taken by particular officers and regiments; for the reason that I desire first to obtain all the facts. Nor have I said anything of the gallant seventh and eighth regiments from Georgia. This part of my duty is most melancholy. It may be enough to say, that they were the only Georgia regiments here at the time, that they were among the earliest on the field, and in the thickest of the fight, and that their praise is upon the lips of the whole army, from Gen. Beauregard on down. Col. Gartrell led the seventh regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel Gardner the eighth, the whole under the command of Col. Bartow, who led them with a gallantry that was never excelled. It was when the brigade was ordered to take one of the enemy’s strongest batteries, that it suffered most. It was a most desperate undertaking, and followed by the bloodiest results. The battery occupied the top of a hill, on the opposite side of Bull’s Run, with a small piece of woods on the left. Descending the valley along the Run, he proceeded under cover of the hill to gain the woods alluded to, and from which he proposed to make a dash at the battery and capture it. On reaching the woods, he discovered that the battery was supported by a heavy infantry force, estimated at 4,000 men. The whole force, together with the battery, was turned upon the eighth regiment, which was in the van, with terrible effect. Indeed, he was exposed on the flank and in front to a fire that the oldest veterans could not have stood. The balls and shells from the battery, and the bullets from the small arms, literally riddled the woods. Trees six inches in diameter, and great limbs were cut off, and the ground strewn with the wreck. It became necessary to retire the eighth regiment, in order to re-form it. Meanwhile, Col. Bartow’s horse had been shot from under him. It was observed that the forces with which his movement was to be supported had not come up. But it was enough that he had been ordered to storm the battery; so, placing himself at the head of the seventh regiment, he again led the charge, this time on foot, and gallantly encouraging his men as they rushed on. The first discharge from the enemy’s guns killed the regimental color-bearer. Bartow immediately seized the flag, and gain putting himself in front, dashed on, flag in hand, his voice ringing clear over the battlefield, and saying, “On, my boys, we will die rather than yield or retreat.” And on the brave boys did go, and faster flew the enemy’s bullets. The fire was awful. Not less than 4,000 muskets were pouring their fatal contents upon them, while the battery itself was dealing death on every side.

The gallant Eighth Regiment, which had already passed through the distressing ordeal, again rallied, determined to stand by their chivalric Colonel to the last. The more furious the fire, the quicker became the advancing step of the two regiments. At last, and just when they were nearing the goal of their hopes, and almost in the arms of victory, the brave and noble Bartow was shot down, the ball striking him in the left breast, just above the heart. His men rallied behind him, and finding him mortally wounded and that the forces that had been ordered to support their charge had not yet come up, they gradually fell back, bearing him in their arms and disputing every inch of ground. I learn that they would never have retired but for the orders which were given in consequence of the non-arrival of the supporting force. It appears that the order to support our charge, like that to gen. Ewell, miscarried – a failure which had nearly cost us two of the best regiments in the army. Col. Bartow died soon after he was borne from the field. His last words, as repeated to me, were: “they have killed me, my brave boys, but never give up the ship – we’ll whip them yet.” And so we did!

The field officers of the Seventh Regiment escaped except Col. Gartrell who received a slight wound. All the superior officers in the Eighth Regiment, except Maj. Cooper, were killed or wounded. Lieut. Col. Gardner had his leg broken by a musket ball, and Adjutant Branch was killed. Capt. Howard of the Mountain Rangers from Merriwether county was also killed. But I shall not go into a statement of the killed and wounded preferring in delicate and painful a matter to await the official report, which I hope to get tomorrow, when I shall have more to say about our heroic regiments. I will add just here, that our loss in officers was very great. Among others may be mentioned Gen. Bee, Lieut. Col. Johnson of Hampton’s Legion, and Col. Thomas of Gen. Johnston’s Staff, and others. Gen. Jackson was wounded in the hand, and Col. Wheat of the New Orleans Tigers was shot through the body. Col Jones of the 4th Alabama Regiment it is feared was mortally wounded. The regiments that suffered most and were in the thickest of the fight, were the 7th and 8th Georgia, the 4th Alabama, 4th South Carolina, Hampton’s Legion, and 4th Virginia. The New Orleans Washington Artillery did great execution.

If we consider the numbers engaged and the character of the contest, we may congratulate ourselves upon having won, one of the most brilliant victories that any race of people ever achieved. It was the greatest battle ever fought on this continent, and will take its place in history by the side of the most memorable engagements. It is believed that General Scott himself was nearby, at Centreville, and that he directed as he had planned the whole movement. Gen. McDowell was the active commander upon the field.

President Davis arrived upon the field at 5 o’clock, just as the enemy had got into full retreat. His appearance was greeted with shout after shout, and was the equivalent to a reinforcement of 5,000 men. He left Richmond at 7 in the morning.

But “little Beaury” against the world.

P. W. A.

Savannah Republican, 7/27/1861

William B. Styple, Ed., Writing and Fighting the Confederate War: The Letters of Peter Wellington Alexander Confederate War Correspondent, pp 19-23





Correspondent Peter Wellington Alexander On His Arrival at Manassas

25 09 2013

Our Correspondent Arrives at Manassas

Army of the Potomac,

Manassas Junction, July 20, 1861

I arrived here late this afternoon, having left Richmond early this morning and been on the road nearly the whole day. The use of the road for the past few days has been surrendered up almost entirely to the military authorities, and so great is the demand for transportation by the War Department, that it is with difficulty that the trains can manage to get through under less than ten to twelve hours.

As the great battle of the campaign will, in all probability, have been fought and decided before this reaches you, it will not be amiss, especially since the fact is already known to the enemy, to say that General Johnston has arrived here from Winchester with the greater part of his forces recently stationed at that place. What is the precise number of the troops brought with him, I am unable to say. Some of them are still on the road, and are expected to get in some time to-night. Among those who reached here to-day, were the 7th, 9th, and 11th Georgia Regiments, under Colonel Bartow, Gartrell, and Goulding, the brigade under the command of Col. Bartow. I have not been able to see any one who is attached to the brigade, owing to the lateness of the hour at which I arrived, but I learn that all three of the regiments were, immediately upon their arrival, ordered forward to an advanced position upon Bull’s Run, near Union Mills, where the Alexandria & Manassas Railroad crosses the creek. That they will give a good account of themselves in the great battle that is impending, you may feel perfectly assured.

Gen. Johnston ranks Gen. Beauregard, and consequently he will succeed to the command, at least nominally, in the approaching conflict. This seems to have occasioned some regret among the troops who have been stationed here, since Gen. Beauregard has had all the labor of arranging the camp, perfecting the works and preparing the ground for what we all believe will be a great victory. It would be impossible, however, for any officer to supersede him in fact, though he may be outranked under the rules of the War Department. Whatever may be the result, therefore, to “little Beaury” will belong the honor, now and hereafter.

In addition to the forces brought down by Gen. Johnston, I learn that 2,300 men arrived here this morning from Aquia Creek under command of Brig. Gen. Holmes. They marched across the country a distance of 30 miles since yesterday morning. This force is composed chiefly of Tennesseeans, with some companies from Arkansas. The men are said to look very much as if they would not ask for more than one bite at a Yankee.

It is generally conceded that Patterson has moved down the Potomac from Martinsburg to the relief of Gen. McDowell, and that he took with him his entire force. The number of the enemy now before us cannot be less than 75,000. That Gen. Scott will risk such an army in the hands of either McDowell or Patterson, or both of them, is not believed for one moment. When the great contest does take place, he will take the command of the Federal forces himself. If he does not, it will be because he expects defeat. Our own forces are believed to be at least a third less than those which are arrayed against us.

The impression prevails here that there will be a grand battle to-morrow, and that we will be the attacking party this time. I have been here too short a time to venture and opinion myself, but I should not be surprised if, in the next few days, we did not witness a series of active operations, culminating by or before the middle of next week in a pitched battle, in which all the forces on both sides will be engaged.

I have said nothing so far of the Battle of Bull’s Run, for the reason that you will find, in the Richmond papers this morning, and especially the Examiner, a better account of it than I could possibly give you. A few facts may be mentioned, however, that will not fail to interest your readers. The first is, that the battle was opened by Sherman’s famous battery, under the protection of whose fire the enemy’s infantry advanced upon our lines. Nearly all the shells passed over our men and exploded beyond them. Not so with the New Orleans Washington Artillery which was opposed to Sherman’s Battery, and whose guns did horrible execution. Indeed, it is believed that but for the precision and destructiveness of their fire, the enemy would have approached nearer and in greater numbers, and that our victory would have been greater than it was. The Federal battery changed its position fifteen times during the engagement, and at last left the field minus one of its guns which we captured, together with 501 small arms.

Soon after getting here, I encountered a little drummer boy of fourteen summers from Lynchburg., who says he went over the field soon after the battle with the hope of getting a little revolver. He examined the pockets of a score or more of the dead without finding a solitary “red,” his only trophy being an odd looking dirk with a buckhorn handle and a due bill for seven dollars from one Dutchman to another.

Another lad, a marker for the Alexandria Rifles, appearing upon the field, was ordered to the hospital by his Captain as a place of safety. The little fellow was not pleased with the order, though he obeyed it, but when the battle began to wax warm, he stole back and seizing the gun of a disabled soldier he succeeded in killing one Hessian and wounding the second.

Some of the officers have furnished their servants with revolvers, and it is asserted to be a fact that these negroes made several captures during the fight on Thursday. One of them, Dick Langhorn, from Lynchburg; a strapping fellow, shot down one man, his ball taking effect through the shoulder; and when all his barrels had been discharged, he rushed upon another whom he knocked down with  his pistol. Seizing the two by the collars, he started to carry them to his master, when one of them showed a disposition to resist; whereupon Dick turned to him and said: “See here, Massa, you’d better come ‘long, or dis here nigger will hurt you, see ef he don’t.” Seeing the d—l in Dick’s eye, he submitted, and the two were carried prisoners to the Colonel of the Regiment, the Eleventh Virginia.

Hampton’s Legion and the 13th Mississippi Regiment have just arrived, and the 11th Mississippi is expected some time to-night. A few days would increase our forces materially. North Carolina is sending up some of the finest regiments I have seen, and about three a week.

P. W. A.

Savannah Republican, 7/26/1861

William B. Styple, Ed., Writing and Fighting the Confederate War: The Letters of Peter Wellington Alexander Confederate War Correspondent, pp 18-19





Preview: Ted Alexander’s “Antietam” and the NPS on Hispanics in the ACW

29 02 2012

Antietam National Battlefield’s Chief Historian Ted Alexander has authored The Battle of Antietam: The Bloodiest Day, an entry in The History Press Civil War Sesquicentennial Series. This is a nice, concise account of the Maryland Campaign, the narrative running 139 pages plus appendices including orders of battle, notes, bibliography, and index. While the whole campaign is covered, the bulk of the book is on the battle and its aftermath. Now, quibbles with a 139 page account of an event with the scope of the Maryland Campaign are inevitable, but you really can’t go wrong with this overview written by someone who is generally recognized as an expert on the topic.

Ted also gave me a copy of a new NPS booklet, Hispanics and the Civil War: From Battlefield to Homefront. This nifty guide discusses the roles played by Hispanics on both sides of the conflict, including some surprising folks like Admiral David Farragut (his mom was Spanish) – although I could find no mention of George Meade, who was born in Cadiz, Spain.





Pvt. Alexander Carolin, Co. A, 69th NYSM, On the Battle

29 01 2012

The following letter was received from Alexander Carolin, a private in the Sixty-ninth Regiment, and is addressed to his father, Mr. Dennis Carolin, ex-Alderman of the Fourth Ward. Private Carolin took part in the entire combat, and was an eye-witness of the death of Captain Haggerty:

Fort Corcoran, July 23, 1861.

Dear Father – We had orders to move on Saturday evening at six o’clock for our encampment near Centreville. We did not start until two o’clock in the morning. At about five o’clock we reached a place between Bull’s Run and Manassas Gap, where we came to a halt. Two Ohio regiments and the Seventy ninth of New York were with our column. Our regiment moved about, trying to get the enemy to attack us. We had Sherman’s Battery with us, besides a battery of rifled cannon. Our column kept up a fire on the woods, on the opposite side of the ravine, a distance of about a quarter of a mile, trying to find out the masked batteries, but the enemy would not return the fire. About ten o’clock we discovered two batteries, and drove the enemy out. The Sixty ninth advanced. We went off at a run, but could not overtake the enemy, as they scattered in every direction through the woods., kept up the run, turned to the right, waded through streams, climbed steep hills, left our battery behind us and outflanked the enemy, and came on them when we were not expected. The Louisiana Zouaves were doing big damage when we came on them. We gave a yell that could be heard far above the roar of the cannon. We fired into them and charged them with the bayonet. They were panic stricken and fled. We covered the field with their dead. Haggerty rushed forward to take a prisoner, and lost his life. The man turned and shot him through the heart. We drove the enemy before us for some distance, then got into line and had them surrounded. General McDowell came up just then, took off his hat and said, “You have gained the victory.” Our next fly was at a South Carolina regiment. We killed about three hundred of them. After fighting hard for some time we cleared the field of all the enemy. The enemy again rallying, the real fight then commenced. We were drawn up in line, and saw the other regiments trying to take the masked batteries. They were cut to pieces and scattered. We were then ordered forward to attack the batteries. We fought desperately, but we were cut down. We lost our flag, but took it back again with the assistance of a few of the Fire Zouaves, who fought like devils. We charged a second time, but were mowed down by the grape and rifles of the enemy. We came together again to make another charge, but we could not get together over two hundred men. We formed into a hollow square, when we saw the enemy turn out their cavalry, about a mile in length, and the hills all about covered with them, trying to surround us. All the regiments on our side were scattered and in disorder, except what were left of the 69th. The Fire Zouaves had to retreat, leaving a number of wounded on the field. Haggerty’s body was laid in a house when we were returning back. Col. Corcoran asked me to assist in carrying back the body, and I accordingly went back. We carried the body for some miles on a door, the shot falling thick around us. We had to leave the body on the road. Col. Corcoran, I hear, was afterwards wounded and taken prisoner. What we could gather together of our regiment marched back to Fort Corcoran during the night. I am trying to cross the river to send you a telegraphic dispatch, but the government will not allow any soldiers to cross. I escaped unhurt; although the men on each side and in front and rear were either killed or wounded.

I remain yours, affectionately,

Alexander Carolin.

New York Irish-American, 8/3/1863

Clipping Image

Contributed by Damian Shiels