Pvt. John H. B. Jones, Co. I, 4th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

4 09 2014



The Liberty Hall Volunteers at First Manassas.

“Old Zeus” — College Roommates Killed by Same Ball.

By Lieutenant J. H. B. Jones

(The following remarks were made on Lee-Jackson Day, 1911, at Lexington, and are reprinted from the Lexington Gazette:)

The Liberty Hall company was organized at Washington College, Lexington, Va., early in April, 1861, and numbered seventy-one members, rank and file. It was mustered into service at Staunton, Va., on June 10, 1861, by Major (afterwards general) John Echols. It spent several days in Staunton, and was then ordered to Winchester, Va., and was assigned to the Fourth Virginia Infantry, as Company I. This regiment was composed of companies principally from the counties of Montgomery, Pulaski, Smyth and Grayson, and was commanded by Colonel James F. Preston, who was a fine old officer, amiable and humane, and ever watchful of the interests of his soldiers. He sympathized with us on long marches and did everything he could to aid the weary. The youthful appearance of our boys brought forth many comments from the bewhiskered mountioneers of the Grayson Daredevils, such as, “Sonny, does your mother know you are out?” or “You may crack a cap on my gun; it won’t hurt you.” “Come home before the kufy bell rings.” These remarks were not very complimentary to us soldier boys, and very often our replies were not given in scriptural language, but it was not long before our critics changed their opinions of our endurance and soldierly qualities. As soon as we had been assigned to our regiment our time was fully occupied in drilling, guard duties and cooking. We were fairly proficient in the first two duties, but novices in cooking. The bread, oh, my! the samples of bread we produced would astonish the chefs of the exclusive 400.

Ted Barclay, one of my messmates, was noted for his recipe for making steak gravy (the only butter we had for our slapjack bread). He never failed to drop the hot stump of a tallow candle into the frying pan when cooking by candle light, and just before it was ready to go on our tin plates.

Owing to the position of the Confederate forces, long and rapid marches had to be made to aid Evans’s brigade on the extreme left. Generals Bee’s and Bartow’s men were hurried forward to his assistance. Then General Jackson’s brigade, after a rapid march, took position on the Henry house plateau in front of the young pine woods and in an easterly direction from the Henry house. The location of the Fourth Virginia Infantry was just in front of the young pine saplings, and the ground before the L. H. V. Co., was slightly higher than the ground it occupied. The order was given for the Fourth Virginia to lie down. The Rockbridge Artillery and some other guns were stationed in  front of the Fourth Virginia and other regiments of the First Virginia brigade. The Thirty-third Virginia was to our left. The famous batteries of United States regulars commanded by Griffin and Ricketts were posted at first near the Henry House, and then advanced nearer to our line. These batteries were pouring a very destructive fire upon our forces. Some of their shots, aimed at the artillery in our front, passed them and struck the line of infantry. One solid shot killed three of the L. H. V.’s – viz.: Sergeant Charles W. Bell. Corporal William L. Paxton and Private Benjamin A. Bradley. The most trying duty that soldiers are called upon to perform is to support batteries in their front. They must lie still, receiving balls and shells not aimed at them, seeing their comrades killed and wounded, while they have to remain passive and restraint their combative instincts until ordered to “up guards, and at the enemy with bayonets.”

A very touching incident in the lives and death of Charley Bell and Ben Bradley may be recorded. They were playmates and close friends when small boys; they entered Washington College together, were roommates and bedfellows while there; in the army they were messmates and bunk fellows, and they were hurried into eternity by the same cannon ball. While the company was being subjected to this terrible ordeal of fire and blood, what can I say more complimentary than has already been said of our gallant captain, James J. White, the towering and loved “Old Zeus” of our college days? He walked backward and forward in front of his line of boys, seemingly unconscious of the deadly missiles flying past him; his words allayed their fears and inspired them with additional courage, and caused Jackson to say of them while making the successful, but bloody charge: “The boys were more than brave.”

Now the enemy’s fire became more distinct and more rapid; the enemy was sending forward fresh troops and more of them. The L. H. V.’s realized that their fighting qualities would soon be called into action. The artillery in their front were opening the way for them by retiring by the right and left flanks; the Federal volleys were getting nearer and nearer; our gallant soldiers were being outnumbered and were giving ground slowly. Every soldier knew that the time for vigorous action had come.

“The combat deepens, on ye brave

Who rush to glory, or the grave.

Wave Dixie, all thy banners wave,

And charge with all thy chivalry.”

The proximity of the volleys, the zip and singing of the rifle balls indicated that our men were stubbornly yielding to the enemy’s advance. Just then General Bee dashed to General Jackson and said: “General, they are beating us back.” Jackson’s reply was: “Then we’ll give them the bayonet.” General Bee returned to his men and said: “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Tally behind the Virginians; follow me.”

In this charge the gallant general was killed, but he had given Jackson a name that will ever live in history. Jackson watched the enemy’s approach closely, and then in clarion tone he called to his brigade: “Reserve your fire until they come within 50 yards, then fire and give them the bayonet, and when you charge yell like furies. Forward, First Brigade!”

Then and there, comrades, was born the rebel yell that ever grew in volume and spirit until insufficient rations cut short our wind and vocal powers. This was the decisive charge of the day, and in the language of Stonewall Jackson “broke the moral power of the Federal army.” The L. H. V.’s suffered severely in this charge. Four were killed, viz.: W. B. Ott, Calvin Utz, H. L. Wilson and C. D. Strickler, and three had been killed before the charge. The wounded were Orderly Sergeant William A. Anderson, Corporal G. B. Strickler, S. H. Lightner, H. A. Paxton. C. F. Neel and Bronson B. Gwynn. Sergeant E. A. Mitchell died shortly after the battle from brain fever, brought on by excitement and exertion in the battle, making a loss of fourteen men. The opponents of the company in this charge were the famous gaudy New York Zouaves. They had the reputation of being great fighters, and were terrible to look at. It was the fate of one of our smallest men, Bronson Gwynn, to meet in a hand-to-hand conflict with one of these big red breeches fellows, who jumped from behind a pine bush and made a desperate lunge at Gwynn with his bayonet. Fortunately, his thrust was inaccurate, and the bayonet only passed through his uniform between his arm and side. Poor little stammering, stuttering Gwynn rallied and extracted his clothing from the bayonet, at once crying out: “Now, d-d-damn you, take that,” and turned loose the contents of his old regenerated flint lock into the upper story of the Zouave’s fez-covered head. Having seen that his work was effective he hurried on to take his place in the charge.

Richmond [Virginia] Times-Dispatch, 2/12/1911

Clipping Image

Contributed by Brett Schulte

John H. B. Jones at Ancestry.com

John H. B. Jones at usgwarchives.net

Preview: Caughey & Jones, “The 6th United States Cavalry in the Civil War”

10 07 2013

CaugheyA recent release from McFarland is The 6th United States Cavalry in the Civil War: A History and Roster, by Donald C. Caughey and Jimmy J. Jones. Jones is an active duty U. S. Army officer who served two tours with the modern day 6th U. S. Cavalry, and Caughey is a retired U. S. Army officer who hosts Regular Cavalry in the Civil War. From a modern perspective and the standpoint of lineage, these guys have the pedigrees. The first 134 pages of the book cover the regiment’s Civil War service, with particular attention paid to its troubles at Fairfield in the Gettysburg Campaign. Another 114 pages is devoted to an biographical roster from James Oscar Ackerman to Henry Zimmerman. The bibliography cites mostly published works, but also newspaper and manuscript sources which the notes indicate were consulted frequently. Illustrations are light and not too surprising, but the maps are clear in typical Steve Stanley fashion.

4th Sgt. Harrison B. Jones, Co. H., 33rd Virginia Infantry, On the March and Battle

22 04 2012

Thursday [7/18/1861]

Today left Winchester about 1 o’clock and marched to reinforce Gen Beauregard

we had a hard march to day; waded the Shenandoah river at Berry Ferry and continued marching until 9 o’clock at night, then stoped at Paris in Va

Friday [7/19/1861]

left Paris about 4 o’clock this morning and marched to Piedmont Station to break fast – after remaining there several hours we got upon the cars and run down to Mannassas Juncktion we remained in the cars all night there was a fight near the Junction

[Saturday 7/20/1861]

To day we marched to and fro through the Country below the Juncktion and cornfield about four miles from the Juncktion where we camped in the pine bushes with no blankets and very scant supper & breakfast.

Sunday [7/21/1861]

To day after getting an early breakfast we were marched at a quick pace having understood that the federal forces were making a attempted to flanke us about 2 o clock we were drawn up in line a battle about the time we go airly in line one of our company was wounded in the leg — we remained in that position some time exposed to heavy fire — from the Federal forces we then fired a round or two and charged upon the enemy running them from their cannon — our company lost 6 killed & fifteen wounded besides several others marked a little

MSS 14169 Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, as transcribed at 150 Years Ago Today (1, 2, 3, 4). Used with permission.

Harrison Jones at Ancestry.com

#75 – Brig. Gen. David R. Jones

20 03 2009

Report of Brig. Gen. David R. Jones, C. S. Army, of Operations at McClean’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p. 461


Camp Pettus, August 3, 1861

In obedience to instructions conveyed by circular of the 1st of August, instant, I have the honor to submit the following report of my brigade, at that time composed of the Fifth South Carolina Regiment and Seventeenth and Eighteenth Regiments of Mississippi Volunteers, for the 18th day of July, during the battle fought on that day at Blackburn’s Ford, on Bull Run:

My command was placed in position at McLean’s Ford, on Bull Run, and did not participate in the engagement of that date. The enemy in some force occupied a position on Rocky Run, about one mile and a half in front and to the left of my position, and were prevented from making a nearer reconnaissance of our lines by the vigilance of my pickets, which were kept well in advance.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding


Act. Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Corps, Army of the Potomac

#100a – Lieut. Col. Joseph P. Jones

23 09 2008

Report of Lieut. Col. Joseph P. Jones, Fifth North Carolina Infantry

O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME 51 Part 1 [S# 107], pp. 32-33

BLACKBURN’S FORD, Bull Run, July 22, 1861

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report:

In obedience to orders yesterday morning to cross the creek and take position on the right of the ravine in front of the enemy preparatory to making a charge upon a battery, then being used against your command, I dispatched two companies in advance as skirmishers, and proceeded at once to occupy the hill within a few hundred yards of the battery. Upon reaching that point I found the two companies sent out as skirmishers. We were fired upon with grape and canister, killing one man and wounding three. The whole battalion stood firm until an order was received to retire to the ravine and remain until further orders, which was done in good order. Supposing, then, my men to be safe, and being told by your staff officer that you were but a very short distance from me, I committed the indiscretion of going to where you were to ask some special instructions. While absent four companies of my battalion, without any proper cause, retreated about 100 yards. I succeeded in rallying all of them except two officers (Captain Goddin and First Lieutenant Taylor). Captains Sinclair, Company A; Garrett, Company F; Reeves, Company E, and First Lieutenant Doughtie, Company H, did not retreat, but behaved well throughout the whole day’s duty. Captain Brookfield’s company (D) started to retreat, but were immediately rallied by him. The disgraceful conduct of those who retreated I cannot account for. There was no cause for it. I attribute the blame to the officers concerned in it, and not the men. I received an order to send out four companies as skirmishers, and with the others to hold myself in readiness to charge the enemy’s battery, with an order to announce to you when ready, and await further orders. I replied that I was ready, but received afterward an order to recross the creek to my position in the morning. I returned to that position and my men were fired upon by the enemy’s scouting parties. Their fire was returned, resulting in the killing of four or five of their men. The names of the killed and wounded of my battalion in the morning were: Private James Manning, Company C, killed; Private Wiley Garner, Company C, wounded slightly; Private Richardson, Company C, wounded slightly; Corporal Wiggins, Company G, wounded slightly. It may be proper for me to add that I had but little assistance in controlling the movement of my battalion, which has had no drilling, I being the only field officer present for duty, and the adjutant being absent. I beg leave to call your attention to the services of Rev. James Sinclair, the chaplain of the regiment, who acted as a field officer and rendered me all the assistance in his power.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,


Lieut. Col. Fifth Infty. North Carolina State Troops,

Commanding Regiment for July 21, 1861

Brigadier-General LONGSTREET,

Commanding Fourth Brigade

#96 – Brig. Gen. David R. Jones

13 03 2008


Report of Brig. Gen. David R. Jones, Commanding Third Brigade, First Corps

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 537-539


Camp near McLean’s Ford, on Bull Run, July 23, 1861

SIR: In compliance with orders from headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following statement of the operations of my brigade on the day of the 21st instant:

At 7.10 a.m. the following order was received, viz:

JULY 21, 1861

Brig. Gen. D. R. JONES,

Commanding Third Brigade:

GENERAL: General Ewell has been ordered to take the offensive upon Centreville. You will follow the movement at once by attacking him in your front.



Brigadier General, Commanding

I immediately placed my brigade in readiness to advance, and dispatched a messenger to communicate with General Ewell, whose movement I was to follow. Not receiving a prompt reply, I crossed McLean’s Ford and took position with my artillery in battery on the Union Mills road, near the farm of Mr. E. W. Kincheloe and abreast of Grigsby’s, which the enemy held with a strong force of artillery, infantry, and cavalry. I here awaited the advance of General Ewell for about two hours and a half, at the end of which time I received a somewhat discretionary order, through Captain Ferguson, aide-de-camp, and a few minutes after the following positive order, through Colonel Chisolm, aide-de-camp, to return to my former position,-viz:

10.30 A.M.

General JONES:

On account of the difficulties in our front it is thought preferable to countermand the advance of the right wing. Resume your former position.


Brigadier-General, Commanding

In the execution of these orders the two Mississippi regiments of my brigade, while advancing to recross McLean’s Ford, were exposed to a dangerous and demoralizing fire of rifle shot and shell from the enemy’s batteries, placed at or near Grigsby’s barn. Upon reaching my intrenchments General Ewell sent me an order he had received from General Beauregard, upon which was the following indorsement, viz:

The general says this is the only order he has received. It implies he is to receive another. Send this to General Beauregard if you think proper.


Acting Assistant Adjutant-General

Shortly after this I was requested by General Longstreet to make a demonstration in his favor on my front, followed by an order from General Beauregard, borne by Mr. Terry, 11.30 a.m., to advance upon the enemy Up Rocky Run, co-operating with General Ewell on my right and General Longstreet on my left.

I recrossed the ford, my men much fatigued by the morning’s march, many just convalescing from the measles, and retraced my route to the position I had occupied in the morning, and thence endeavored to communicate with General Ewell. Failing in this, I notified General Longstreet that I was advancing to the assault, and proceeded westwardly through the woods to the eastern elevation of Rocky Run Valley. My regiments were pushed forward by a flank movement through a ravine in the northeastern corner of Croson’s field, with instructions to form into line after crossing the hollow in the following order, viz: Colonel Jenkins, Fifth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, on the right, his right wing resting on the woods; Colonel Burr, Eighteenth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, on the left, and Colonel Featherston, Seventeenth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, supporting my artillery, protected by a company of infantry and Captain Flood’s small troop of cavalry, to be posted on the brow of a hill well to the left–the only point from which it could be used at all–in order to distract the enemy’s fire from my advancing lines of infantry. This arrangement of my two pieces of artillery, I regret to state, was impracticable by a vigorous converging fire from the enemy’s rifled guns and an advance of his infantry before my infantry company could be thrown forward to protect the pieces, and I was compelled to withdraw them.

Colonel Jenkins’ regiment advanced through a galling fire and over exceedingly difficult ground across the hollow. The Mississippi regiment followed, but owing to the great difficulties of the ground, which were not apparent in my reconnaissance, and to the murderous shower of the shot, shell, and canister which was poured upon the brigade from a masked battery, as well as from that in front, faltered, and, with the exception of Captain Fontaine’s company, fell back. I rallied them in the woods to the rear at a point to which I had previously withdrawn the artillery and cavalry. While the Eighteenth Mississippi Regiment was endeavoring to form into line its right became lapped behind the left of the Fifth, upon which its fire told with fatal effect. The latter regiment (the Fifth), notwithstanding the heavy fire of the enemy in front and the unfortunate fire of friends in the rear, advanced to the opposite slope, and then formed into line of battle, prepared to make the charge. Being isolated by the falling back of the supporting regiments it maintained its position for nearly three-quarters of an hour, its two right companies in the mean time thrown into the woods with well-directed volleys, driving the already retreating foe precipitately from the field. After I had dispatched three separate orders to withdraw, there being no favoring demonstration from Blackburn’s Ford, it retired well formed and in good order from the field.

Although the main object of our attack–the possession of the battery–was not attained, the effect of our operations, I am glad to believe, was none the less important in working out the grand issues of the day. The enemy left in panic the strong position from which he completely commanded several fords of Bull Run and the adjacent country for miles around.

My men behaved well in making the advance, considering the great difficulties of the ground and the terrible nature of the fire, as the following statement will show: Fifth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, 3 killed, 23 wounded; Seventeenth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, 2 killed, 10 wounded, Eighteenth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, 9 killed, 29 wounded. Total, 14 killed, 62 wounded.

It affords me much pleasure to express the confidence with which the conduct of Captain Miller and Lieutenant Norcom, of the artillery, and Capt. J. W. Flood, of the cavalry, attached to my command, inspired me. I only regret that the circumstances of my position prevented me from deriving the full benefit of the assistance they were so ready and eager to give. Too much cannot be said in praise of the gallantry displayed by Colonel Jenkins and his regiment of South Carolinians. The daring advance in line, the unwavering determination and coolness with which he held his command in position after it was completely isolated, and the ready tact with which he advanced his right flank and scattered the foe, will challenge comparison, I venture to say, with any of the many exhibitions of gallantry that graced the signal victory of the day. To Captain Fontaine, Company H, Eighteenth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, much praise is also due for the manner in which he kept his company in hand. Not only did he resist the backward pressure of the other companies of his regiment, but he gallantly maintained his ground in rear of the Fifth Regiment, and with it retired from the field.

For more detailed reports I beg leave to refer you to the accompanying reports of colonels commanding regiments of this brigade.

To the following-named gentlemen: Lieut. F. G. Latham, acting assistant adjutant-general, Capts. A. Coward, J. W. Ford, E. Taylor, J. R. Curell, and Lieut. O. K. McLemore, members of my staff, I am indebted for valuable assistance, and I am under especial obligations to Mr. E. W. Kincheloe, whose services as messenger, scout, and guide were truly valuable to me personally, as well as the cause in which we are engaged. I take pleasure also in acknowledging the valuable assistance of Colonel White and Mr. Davis, both independent volunteers, accompanying the Mississippi Volunteers under my command.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding


Acting Assistant Adjutant-General

Unknown, 5th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

31 08 2015

Col. McRae’s Regiment at Manassas.

We regret very much that a sprained ankle kept our friend McRae from the field at Manassas, for we know he would have been willing to risk his life a thousand times to have participated in that day’s work. But the Regiment was there and did noble work as will be seen from the following account.

The Fifth Infantry, North Carolina State Troops, forms a part of Brigadier General Longstreet’s command, and although crippled in its efficiency by the sickness of two of its field officers, nobly performed its part in the battle at Manassas, on the right wing, under the gallant lead of its Lieutenant Colonel, who was in sole command during the entire engagement.

Early in the morning the cannonading commenced from two batteries on the right flank of the position occupied by this regiment, supported by a full brigade of the enemy. Col. Jones, determined to ascertain the position of their batteries and the force of the enemy, detailed a small reconoitering force under the command of the Rev. James Sinclair, Chaplain of the Regiment, who had volunteered his services for the day. – This force crossed the Run, and attempted to penetrate the wood on the left of the enemy’s position, but was recalled in order to charge the batteries up the ravine on the right, the scouts having brought in the necessary information. – The Virginia Seventeenth was at the same time ordered to support the North Carolina fifth, which duty it gallantly discharged. General Longstreet, with characteristic valor, undertook now a movement which if the orders were understood generally, would have carried the day with a still greater lustre, if not a more complete victory.

Col. Jones was ordered to send four companies up the hill as skirmishers, and to draw the fire of the batteries, while Brigadier General Jones from our right was to flank the enemy on his left. The reserve companies of the 5th, supported by the 17th Virginia, was to attack the right. The skirmishers of the North Carolina 5th, headed by the Chaplain, charged up the hill, in the face of a storm of grape and canister which killed two and wounded five of his men. On the summit of that hill these man lay for two hours, receiving the enemy’s fire without flinching, while on every side the hoary monarches of the forest were being mown down like grass before the mower’s scythe. The brave commander himself seemed to be ubiquitous here, there and everywhere exposing himself in the hottest of the fire. It is hard for men to remain still and receive the fire of the enemy, without being permitted to return it; and this precisely was the condition of the North Carolina 5th on the 21st inst. Long and eagerly did those brave men watch for the signal of the attack upon the right, in order to advance and give the Northern hounds a tuch of the Southern steel.

After remaining on the hill for two hours, and losing in killed and wounded seven men, this gody received orders to retire to the ravine, which was done in good order.

But the tide of battle again rolled down the hill, and once more four companies of the 5th N. S. State troops were ordered to occupy the summit, and await orders to advance with the bayonet on the battery on the right of the enemy’s position. This was accomplished without any loss to the North Carolinians and although they were not privileged to advance upon the battery, we think the North Carolina Fifth Infantry has given good earnest that at no distant day she will carve for herself a name in the military annals of the Southern Confederacy. Had Col. Jones the other field officers of the Regiment with him, there would have probably been another bright spot in the glories of the 21st of July, 1861. But Bravely did he perform his duty, though his Lieutenant Colonel was a preacher, taking his first lesson in the art of war, and imparting the same to the enemy in the most impressive manner possible.

Gen. Longstreet, in token of his appreciation of Mr. Sinclair’s services on the occasion, presented him with one of the sabres captured from the enemy, and expressed his desire that he should go on his staff.

[New Bern, NC] Weekly Progress, 8/6/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Rev. James Sinclair info Findagrave, post war Congressional testimony, defends his reputation in 1864 – all in all, an interesting fellow.

Joseph P. Jones resigned 10/24/1861

Pvt. Miles O. Wright, Co. B, 13th New York Infantry, On the Battle

19 08 2014

From Miles O. Wright, Co. B.


Camp Union, Va., July 23, 1861.

Dear Sister and Brother: — I am saved by the grace of God. On the 18th day of July we commenced our fight, and on the 21st we had a warm time, I tell you. There was about 1200 killed, of our men and theirs. They had 75,000 men and we had 20,000, but when we got them in the open fields we drove them. But they went in their masked battery, and we cut them down like grass. We fought from half-past seven till half-past three, and then we retreated and left the field. They chased us for 15 or 20 miles with 30,000 men and their cavalry, and run over our men and shot some. They run over James Adams and Wm. Goodwin, but did not kill them. It hurt them some. Two out of our company were wounded, and we expect Tom Jones in killed or taken prisoner. If he is taken prisoner we will get him again. After they had chased us 10 or 12 miles, Patterson and Butler came in behind and shot and took all of them.

Manassas Station and Manassas Gap is what we tried to take. The battle was fought on Bull’s Run, about 25 miles from Washington City. But the way we come it, was about 50 miles. We marched all night and got into camp next morning.

I am alive and well, but pretty sore and lame. I am sleepy, not having slept for 48 hours. I have just seen five rebel prisoners, in charge of Capt. Brown’s company in this regiment. I cannot write much more. I am so tired. The boys that are alive are here. Two of our boys are shot, one in the shoulder and one in the elbow. Their names are Smith and Ketchum.

You musty not feel bad for me. If I get home alive, all right; if not, I die for my country. But I guess our fighting is done with. We have had our share of it. There is not over 500 left in our regiment out of 840. It took 11 tents for each company, now it don’t take over 5.

Good bye for this time.

From your Brother,


Dansville [New York] Advertiser, 8/1/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Bio Sketch of M. O. Wright, p. 381

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

Update on Dick Weeks – Shotgun

14 09 2013

Update to this post: I received the following today from friend Pat Jones:

Received word from Michelle that Dick passed on Thursday. In her words: “I first want to thank you all for the wonderful messages that you sent to me and my dad. They meant the world to us both. I will be responding to each of you soon. I am writing because I have some very sad news. Shotgun passed away (peacefully) on Thursday. The Civil War and this community meant the world to him and I want to thank you all for being a part of his life and feeding his passion. While he didn’t get the opportunity to meet all of you in person, he considered you his Civil War family. Thank you again for making his life so rich with your knowledge and friendship. If anyone is local and would like to attend the service this Tuesday, please message me for details. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery alongside all of the other soldiers in a couple of months. Thank you again.”

Dick’s Service will be:
Tuesday, September 17th
Bethel Free Will Baptist Church
3713 Pennington Lane
Woodbridge, VA 22193

Rest in peace, Dick.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,168 other followers