Preview: Pfarr, “Longstreet at Gettysburg”

19 12 2019

b05c2ea8-f26f-4ee5-ab7b-1f3dfb9e7f71_1.e8282d87c195f3ff131d7793df1c2dd4A recent publication from McFarland & Co. is Cory M. Pfarr’s Longstreet at Gettysburg: A Critical Reassessment. Mr. Pfarr works for the Department of Defense and lives in Pikeville, MD.

From the back cover:

This is the first book-length analysis of Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s actions at Gettysburg. The author argues that Longstreet has been discredited unfairly, beginning with character assassination by his contemporaries after the war and, persistently, by historians in the decades since.

By a close study of the three-day battle and an incisive historiographical inquiry into Longstreet’s treatment by scholars, the author presents an alternative view of Longstreet as an effective military leader, and refutes over a century of negative evaluations.

I guess the key phrase here is “book-length,” because undoubtedly there have been other works that reassess Longstreet in general, stretching back to the first assessments, as well as modern works by folks like Jeffery Wert, Henry Knudsen and William Garrett Piston, to name just a few. How this singular focus on Lee’s Warhorse’s work at Gettysburg specifically differs from others is the question.

You get:

  • Foreword by Harold Knudsen
  • 186 pages of narrative in 25 chapters.
  • 12 pages of endnotes.
  • 4 1/2 page bibliography, primarily published sources.
  • Full index

 

 

 





#76 – Brig. Gen. James Longstreet

20 03 2009

Report of Brig. Gen. James Longstreet, C. S. Army, of Action at Blackburn’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 461-463

SIR: I have the honor to report that in obedience to the orders of the general commanding I took my position at this ford on the 17th instant, my brigade being composed of the First, Eleventh, and Seventeenth Regiments of Virginia Volunteers. My line of defense being quite extended, I threw out a line of skirmishers to the water’s edge, covering my entire front, holding strong reserves in readiness to defend with the bayonet any point that might be violently attacked.

At 11.30 o’clock a.m. on the 18th my pickets reported the enemy advancing upon the ford in heavy columns of infantry and a strong artillery force. At 12 m. the pickets retired without firing. My artillery (two pieces) were placed in convenient position, with orders to retire the moment it was ascertained that our pieces were commanded by those of the enemy. The first shot from his battery discovered the advantage of his position, and our artillery was properly withdrawn. A fire from the artillery of the enemy was kept up about half an hour, when their infantry was advanced to the attack. He made an assault with a column of three or four thousand of his infantry, which, with a comparatively small force of fresh troops, was with some difficulty repelled. A second and more determined attack was made after a few minutes, which was driven back by the skirmishers, and the companies of the reserve thrown in at the most threatened and weakest points. I then sent a staff officer to Colonel Early for one of the reserve regiments of his brigade. Before the arrival of that regiment a third, though not so severe, attack was made and repulsed. Colonel Hays, Seventh Regiment Louisiana Volunteers, came in and promptly took position in time to assist in driving back the enemy the fourth time, when I ordered the advance, and called on Colonel Early for the balance of his brigade. The passage of the stream was so narrow and difficult, however, that I soon found it would be impossible to make a simultaneous movement, and ordered the troops that had succeeded in crossing to return to their positions. A few small parties, under command of Captain Marye, Seventeenth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, who behaved with great gallantry, met parties of the enemy on the other side of the stream with the bayonet, and drove them back. Colonel Early, with the balance of his brigade, Seventh Regiment Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, and the Twenty-fourth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hairston, arrived in time to receive the fire of the last attack, but had not been placed in a position where they could fire with effect upon the enemy.

The presence of these regiments probably intimidated the enemy as much as the fire of the troops that met him.  Immediately after this attack the enemy’s infantry retired, and his artillery was opened upon us. The battery under Captain Eshleman was called for, and flew into position–four 6-pounders and three rifled guns. The action was thus continued for one hour, when the enemy fell back upon Centreville, some three miles. I am pleased to say that our young artillerists proved themselves equal, if not superior, to the boasted artillerists of the enemy.

Captain Eshleman was severely wounded early in the action. We lost under their artillery six–one killed, five wounded, and one horse wounded; whilst we have reason to believe that the loss of the enemy during the same fire was very much greater. Our loss from the various attacks of the infantry columns was sixty-three killed and wounded. We have no means of learning positively the probable loss of the enemy. Prisoners taken then and since report it from nine hundred to two thousand. These statements were made to myself and members of my staff by the prisoners–the first estimate by a private, the latter by a lieutenant.

I have had command of the brigade so short a time, and have been so busily occupied during that time, that I have been able to make the acquaintance of but few of the officers; I am, therefore, unable to mention them by name, as I would like to do, and must refer you to the detailed reports of the regimental commanders. The officers seemed to spring in a body to my assistance at the only critical moment. To discriminate in such a body may seem a little unjust, yet I feel that I should be doing injustice to my acquaintances were I to fail to mention their names–not that I know them to be more distinguished than some others, but that I know what I owe them. Colonel Moore, First Regiment Virginia Volunteers, severely wounded; Colonel Garland, Eleventh Regiment Virginia Volunteers, and Colonel Corse, Seventeenth Regiment Virginia Volunteers; Lieutenant-Colonels Fry, Funsten, and Munford; Majors Harrison (twice shot and mortally wounded), Brent, and Skinner, displayed more coolness and energy than is usual amongst veterans of the old service. I am particularly indebted to Lieutenant-Colonel Munford and Major Brent, who having a spare moment and seeing my great need of staff officers at a particular juncture, offered their assistance. Surgeons Cullen, Thornhill, and Davis, Assistant Surgeons Murray, Snowden, and Chalmers, were in the heat of the action much oftener than their duties required, and were exceedingly active and energetic. Lieut. F. S. Armistead, acting assistant adjutant-general, and Lieut. P. T. Manning, aide-de-camp, were very active and gallant in the discharge of their duties. Capt. Thomas Walton and Capt. Macon Thompson, volunteer aids, under their first fire and in their first service, are worthy of their newly-adopted profession. Under a terrific fire these staff officers seemed to take peculiar delight in having occasion to show to those around them their great confidence in our cause and our success.

I inclose the reports of the different commanders, and refer to them for the names of the killed and wounded of their commands.

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

JAMES LONGSTREET,

Brigadier-General

Col. THOMAS JORDAN,

Assistant Adjutant-General





Longstreet’s Report – Terry & Lubbock

27 03 2008

 rangers-ad.jpgIf you’re one of the three folks who actually read the ORs I post here, you may have run across a few familiar names in the report of Brig. Gen. James Longstreet.  The 100 pound Peyton Manning, T. J. Goree and G. Moxley Sorrel would remain with Longstreet throughout most of the war.  Cavalry aficionados among you may also have recognized Benjamin Franklin Terry and Thomas Saltus Lubbock.  I’ll write full sketches of both men, but for now here are brief recaps.

Terry was born in 1821 in Kentucky and moved to Texas when he was 12 years old.  In 1851 he was a partner in Texas’ first railroad.  He became a delegate to the Texas secession convention in 1861, and set out for Richmond later that year to offer his services to the Confederacy.

Lubbock was born in Charleston, SC in 1817.  He moved to Louisiana and was involved in the cotton trade, and when the Texas Revolution started he  threw his fortunes in with the state and served throughout in various military organizations including the Texas Rangers.  He was captured by the Mexican army and spent some time as a prisoner.  Lubbock was a strong secessionist, and in 1861 joined Terry on the trip to Richmond.

It appears, though I have yet to verify it, that Terry and Lubbock set out from Galveston on board a ship in the company of Longstreet, who was heading east after resigning as a paymaster in the U. S. Army, and Goree.  Terry and Lubbock eventually served on Longstreet’s staff at Bull Run as volunteers, though they were referred to as “Colonels”.  After the battle, they received permission from Jefferson Davis to return to Texas and recruit a regiment of cavalry.  Terry became Colonel and Lubbock Lt. Colonel of the 8th Texas Cavalry, Terry’s Texas Rangers.

Lubbock came down with typhus in Tennessee and had to leave the regiment.  Not long after, on Dec.17, 1861, Terry was killed in the regiment’s first battle at Woodsonville, Ky.  Lubbock ascended to command of the regiment, but never rejoined it, dying in hospital at Bowling Green (or Nashville?) in January, 1862.

Both Terry and Lubbock counties in Texas are named in honor of the former Longstreet aides, as is the city of Lubbock.

In the 1861 group photo below, Lubbock is thought to be second from the right (photo found here) – is it just me, or do the two fellas flanking him appear to be supporting a sleeping, sick, or even dead man?: 

lubbock-group.jpg 

Here’s a photo of Terry (found here, as was the recruiting announcement at top):

terry.jpg 

 And here’s a photo of Lubbock’s most famous son (found here):

buddy-holly.jpg 

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#100 – Brig. Gen. James Longstreet

26 03 2008

 

Report of Brig. Gen. James Longstreet, C. S. Army, Commanding Fourth Brigade, First Corps

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 543-544

HEADQUARTERS FOURTH BRIGADE, July 28, 1861

In obedience to the general’s orders of the 20th to assume the offensive, my command was moved across Bull Run at an early hour on the 21st. I found my troops much exposed to the fire of the enemy’s artillery, my front being particularly exposed to a double cross-fire as well as a direct one. Garland’s regiment, Eleventh Virginia, was placed in position to carry by assault the battery immediately in my front. McRae’s regiment, Fifth North Carolina, under Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, the colonel being sick, was posted in front of the battery on my right, and with same purpose in regard to this battery. Strong bodies of skirmishers were thrown out in front of each column, with orders to lead in the assault, and at the same time to keep up a sharp fire, so as to confuse as much as possible the fire of the enemy, and thereby protect the columns, which were not to fire again before the batteries were ours. The columns were to be supported, the first by the First Virginia Regiment, under Major Skinner, the second by the Seventeenth Virginia Regiment, under Colonel Corse. The Twenty-fourth Virginia Regiment, trader Colonel Hairston, was the reserve in column of division in mass, convenient to the support of either column. Arrangements being complete, the troops were ordered to lie down and cover themselves from the artillery fire as much as possible.

About an hour after my position was taken it was discovered by a reconnaissance made by Colonels Terry and Lubbock that the enemy was moving in heavy columns towards our left, the position that the general had always supposed he would take. This information was at once sent to headquarters, and I soon received orders to fall back upon my original position, the right bank of the run. Colonels Terry and Lubbock then volunteered to make a reconnaissance of the position of the enemy’s batteries. They made a very gallant and complete one, and a hasty sketch of his entire left. This information was forwarded to the commanding general, with the suggestion that the batteries be taken.

The general’s orders were promptly issued to that effect, and I again moved across the run, but some of the troops ordered to co-operate failed to get their orders. After awaiting the movement some time, I received a peculiar order to hold my position only. In a few minutes, however, the enemy were reported routed, and I was again ordered forward. The troops were again moved across the run and advanced towards Centreville, the Fifth North Carolina Regiment being left to hold the ford. Advancing to the attack of the routed column I had the First, Eleventh, Seventeenth, and Twenty-fourth Virginia Regiments, Garnett’s section of the Washington Artillery, and Whitehead’s troop of cavalry. The artillery and cavalry were at once put in pursuit, followed as rapidly as possible by the infantry.

General Bonham, who was pursuing on our left, finding it difficult to advance through the fields, &c., moved his command to the road, put it in advance of mine, and the march towards Centreville was continued about a mile farther. Night coming on, the general deemed it advisable to halt. After lying in this position about an hour the general directed that the troops should be marched back to Bull Run for water.

Early next day I sent Colonel Terry forward, under the protection of Captain Whitehead’s troop, to pick up stragglers, ordnance, ordnance stores, and other property that had been abandoned by the enemy. I have been too much occupied to get the names or the number of prisoners. As I had no means of taking care of them I at once sent them to headquarters.  Colonel Terry captured the Federal flag said to have been made, in anticipation of victory, to be hoisted over our position at Manassas. He also shot from the cupola of the court-house at Fairfax the Federal flag left there. These were also duly forwarded to the commanding general.

About noon of the 22d Colonel Garland was ordered with his regiment to the late battle-ground to collect and preserve the property, &c., that had been abandoned in that direction. Colonel Garland’s report and inventory of other property and stores brought in to headquarters and listed by Captain Sorrel, of my staff, and the regimental reports of killed and wounded are herewith inclosed.(*)

My command, although not actively engaged against the enemy, was under the fire of his artillery for nine hours during the day. The officers and men exhibited great coolness and patience during the time.

To our kind and efficient medical officers, Surgeons Cullen, Thornhill, and Lewis, Assistant Surgeons Maury, Chalmers, and Snowden, we owe many thanks. Lieut. F. S. Armistead, acting assistant adjutant-general, and Lieut. P. T. Manning were very active and zealous.

Volunteer Staff.–Colonel Riddick, assistant adjutant-general, North Carolina, was of great assistance in conveying orders, assisting in the distribution of troops, and infusing proper spirit among them. Cols. B. F. Terry and T. Lubbock were very active and energetic. When unoccupied, they repeatedly volunteered their services to make reconnaissances. They were very gallantly seconded by Capts. T. Goree and Chichester, who were also very useful in conveying orders. Capts. T. Walton and C. M. Thompson were very active and prompt in the discharge of their duties. Captain Sorrel joined me as a volunteer aide in the midst of the fight. He came into the battle as gaily as a beau, and seemed to receive orders which threw him into more exposed positions with peculiar delight.

I remain, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

JAMES LONGSTREET,

Brigadier-General

(*) Not Found, but see pp. 570, 571





“Howitzer,” 1st Co. Richmond Howitzers, On the Battle

12 09 2020

The Howitzer Battalion.

1st Co. Howitzers.
Centreville, August 6th, 1861.

To the Editors of the Dispatch: Allow me to correct, through the medium of your paper, a wrong impression which may have gained credence form the communication signed “Chew,” of the Thomas Artillery. The article I refer to is this: “That the Richmond Howitzers did not perform efficient service in the battle of the 21st.,” thereby leading those who knew nothing of the circumstances to believe that we proved recreant to our trust, or performed iniefficient service. Had “Chew” simply stated that we were not on the left wing, he would have accomplished his object – that of refuting the statement made in a former issue, that we were actively engaged in the fight. For a long time we have been attached to Gen. Bonham’s Brigade, in the advance at Fairfax C. H., and by our position were entitled to the post of honor, the centre, and were placed there. During Thursday and Sunday we were subjected to what General Bonham told us was the truest test of the bravery of a soldier – a heavy fire, without being allowed to answer it. Shot and shell from a battery on the hill above us fell and exploded all around us. No one could tell where they would attack us. General Bonham told us if attacked we were to defend our positions as long as we had a man left; yet not a man quailed, but all were ready to take the risks in defence of such a cause as ours. We were in the pursuit and scout which followed the rout of the enemy. Still, far be it from me to detract from the exploits of the Thomas Artillery that day, which will immortalize them forever. We are now attached to General Longstreet’s brigade, with the 1st, 11th, 7th, and 17th Virginia Regiments. We are enjoying excellent health.

Howitzer.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/8/1861

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Pvt. William C. File, Co. G, 18th Mississippi Infantry, On the Campaign

10 09 2020

The following private letter from a private in one of the Mississippi Regiments, was handed us for publication. Many of our readers are doubtless quite familiar with the author, as he was once a cititzen of this place. As it may afford some information to our readers, we give it publicity:

Camp near Fairfax, Va.
July 24th, 1861.

Dear Farther and all at Home:

If you received my last letter, you may not be surprised at getting this one. It is now one week since we left our camp at the Junction, shifting about from one place to another. We are now farther off than we have been yet. I will tell you what we have been doing the past week. About 10 o’clock A. M., last Wednesday, our whole Brigade was suddenly called to march. We got ready in a short time, taking nothing with us but our blankets, provisions, (raw meet and crackers) and marched out about one and a half miles to Bulls Run. Here we remained all day. The next day, three companies, (including ours) crossed the creek, lying in the bushes all day as scouts. About noon they commenced fighting in our rear, a mile or so off, and for about 3 ½ hours, cannon and small arms kept an incessant firing. We heard the cannon balls but were out of their range. The Yankees were routed and fled in confusion. We heard that our loss was 45 killed and wounded, that of the enemy, 7 or 800. At night, we had very thick bushes to cover us, and taking dry oats from a field near by, made a first rate bed, but just as we had got in a good way for sleeping, a little shower of rain fell, wetting our blankets and beds, so we had the pleasure of sleeping under wet blankets the balance of the night, but we managed to pass a tolerable comfortable night. – Next day we remained lying about in the bushes. At night we heard a good deal of firing. We crossed and re-crossed the Creek again, and took our stand in the pine bushes, lying on our arms all night. We were roused up several times during the night, by firing, but the enemy did not come. Leaning up against a pine, gun in hand, I slept until sun up. We remained here during Saturday. On the next day, (Sunday,) the enemy, some two miles distant, commenced throwing bombs but all fell over our encampment or exploding in the air, doing us no damage. Our Brigade then crossed the creek, and lay in the woods some 3 or 4 hours. We could from this time until in the evening, hear the roar of cannon and small arms, at Stone Bridge, some eight miles distant. Jeff. Davis and Beauregard were there, The Yankees were again driven off the field with great loss. We have heard they had some 60,000 engaged: ours only 18 or 20,000; their loss some 15,000; ours about 5,000. We took about 500 prisoners, some 30 pieces of their best artillery, and a great quantity of baggage, &c. But I wish to tell you of our little fight.

In the evening our Brigade advanced upon the Battery that had been playing on us in the morning. We advanced to a steep hill, and were forming a line of battle at its foot, our left flank exposed to the enemy’s batty, when suddenly they opened upon us and cannon balls and grape shot, fell upon us like hail. Some of the men in front commenced hollowing like the victory was won, and at one wild rush, the whole brigade rushed up the hill – all confusion – every one became his own captain – great many shooting at their own men. Our officers tried hard to rally them, but in vain. We were where we could not see the enemy for the bushes in front of us, while we were exposed to a severe fire all the time. I saw a great many shooting but finding they were firing at our own men, I did not fire my gun.

All then run to the foot of the hill, where we first formed, and ran to an old pne field in our rear, to rally. I followed some of our company to the pines, the balls whistling around my head, plowing up the ground all around me. As I crossed the fence I saw our flag-bearer fall, exclaiming, “I’m dead.” Our captain was found dead near by, the next day, also another of our company, with 8 or 10 others. I made my way to our Regiment again. We made the attack in a bad manner. We have the honor of taking the place. Col. Longstreet came up on the other side, as we were leaving, and they run without firing hardly a gun. Our company lost two killed, three wounded; our flag-bearer dangerously. The whole brigade lost 13 killed; I don’t know how many wounded.

On Monday we paid our last respects to our captain; it was raining all day, but we buried him with military honors, firing three rounds over his grave. Yesterday we came to this place. The enemy have all left the country; gone over the river, and I expect our troops have possession of Alexandria, at this time. But I must close. – Write soon and direct as before.

Remaining till death,
W. C. File

The Carolina Flag (Concord, NC), 8/2/1861

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William C. File at Ancestry.com

William C. File at Fold3





Lieut. Douglas French Forrest, Co. H,* 17th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

23 07 2020

A GRAPHIC PICTURE.
—————

We have been permitted to copy the following extracts from a letter written by a young officer who greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Manassas.

Should his modesty take offence at the publication of his frank expressions of feeling and unreserved narration of events, our apology is found in the fact that the original was placed at our disposal byt the courtesy of those to whom it was addressed.

The style is singularly copious, and the descriptive passages especially fine; and the more to be admired when we reflect that the letter was written, a la Pope**, upon fugitive scraps of paper, and currente calamo.***

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE BATTLE.

Saturday night was spent in watching. – The enemy’s bugle, his drum, the rumble of his baggage trains and artillery; not only these, but their very words of command, being distinctly audible in the silent night.

The next morning partly refreshed, we were ordered over the ford, (Bull Run,) as scouts in that direction. I was creeping over the field, when the enemy threw a shell at my party, which exploded just in advance of us. Here we passed a body, one of the Massachusetts slain, (shot the day before,) blackened and ghastly.

After a few hours we were ordered to our reserve, and, without breakfast, to deploy as skirmishers. The first reserve had been left in charge of Willie Fowle. I led the second further on, while the Captain placed himself in the skirt of wood, having established a line of sentries. Here we watched the enemy’s batteries, and would report their movements to the General. Becoming anxious about him, I left my reserve under Zimmerman, and advanced on the spot. The Captain said: “Don, I am awfully sleepy, and will just take a little nap, if you will watch those fellows there.” I cheerfully acquiesced, and relieved Jordan, one of our men who was the actual look-out at the fence. Here I lay on my face, my time pleasantly occupied with the proceedings at the batteries, the ceaseless explosions of the guns and rattle of musketry from the great fight below being in strange contrast with the quiet scenery of mountains and valleys!

SHOWING HOW YANKEE SPORTSMEN FLUSHED GAME AND THEMSELVES TOOK WING.

I unclasped my sword bet and yielded myself to the seductions of the scene, and was startled from my almost reverie by the cry of Lovelace, one of our men, posted on the right: “Look out, Lieutenant! Here they are!” Looking around I saw their skirmishers within about thirty yards with their pieces at a ready, and advancing, just as sportsmen approach a covey of partridges. I shouted to the Captain, and we dashed into the woods. I then asked him if we should fight them? He said, “he reckoned we had.” I then yelled to the boys, “Come on, Old Dominions! Now’s your chance! Now is the chance you’ve waited for!” This shout of mine was heard by our forces on the other side of the Run. The boys say I said “Isn’t it Glorious!” But I don’t remember. On came the boys. I led them, pointed out the Yankees, and we drove them out of the woods and completely put them to flight. As we drove them into the field, the enemy’s battery, about four hundred yards off, opened on us with grape and cannister, and we ordered a retreat; not, however, before our men returned it, firing right at the guns, wounding, as I have since learned from a prisoner, several of their men.

THE “IRON DICK” BATTLE.

We were exposed nearly half a mile without support. The enemy had our range completely, and we were in great peril – the balls whizzing and humming all around us. Fowle, who had advanced his reserve, and behaved with great coolness, says the line of skirmishers extended a long way and intended to cut us off; but we gave a yell, and as I have said, drove them home. Arthur was too slow in retreat even after he had given the order. I had to turn back twice too look for him.

How the balls rattled! Every man would sometimes have to get behind a tree to escape the “dreaded storm.”

A SOLDIER’S GRAVE.

McDermot, one of our men, was killed by a grape-shot. On yesterday I buried him. He had lain out all night, and our eyes filled with woman’s tears as we covered him with his blanket, and left him to sleep on the field where he had fallen. Hurdles put a head and foot mark at his grave, with the inscription in pencil:

Dennis McDermot, of the Old Dominion Rifles, of Alexandria, Va, died in battle, July 21, 1861, a gallant soldier and a good man.”

THE RETREAT OF THE “GRAND ARMY.”

What a glorious day Sunday was for the South! When the rout of the enemy came, down the long line of Bull Run (Yankee’s Run? Eds.) up went a shout! Oh! how grand it was! Imagine the quiet woods through which the watching bayonets glittered silently, suddenly alive with triumphant hurrahs! From right to left, and left to right, for seven miles they were repeated! Then came to order to advance, and as we left the woods and gained the high and open ground, the grandest spectacle I ever saw met my eyes. Company after company, regiment after regiment, brigade after brigade, army after army of our troops appeared We halted to enjoy the sight, and as our glorious artillery and dashing cavalry spurred by in pursuit, shout after shout rent the air. General Longstreet, our Brigade Commander, rode along our line with his staff and thousands of men flung their caps in the air, or swung them on their bayonets. Col. Corse our gallant little Colonel got his meed of hurrahs; next, an old negro who rode by with his gun, got no small salute. And then the sunset came in a perfect glory of light sifted through the leaves.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/3/1861

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This letter also appears in History of the 17th Virginia Regiment, C.S.A, by George Wise

* Per Col. Montgomery Corse’s Official Report,  Co. H (Capt. Herbert) was advanced across Bull Run as skirmishers on the morning of the 21st. The roster in the above referenced regimental history lists three lieutenants in Co. H: Wm. H. Fowle, Jr; D. F. Forrest; and W. W. Zimmerman. As the letter writer identifies Fowle and Zimmerman in his narrative, and is identified as a lieutenant, this letter was likely written by 2nd Lt. D. F. Forrest.

** Alexander Pope wrote his translation of Homer’s Illiad on the backs of scraps of otherwise used paper.

*** Without deep reflection, extemporaneous, “off the cuff.”

Douglas French Forrest bio

Douglas French Forrest at Ancestry.com 

Douglas French Forrest at Fold3 

Douglas French Forrest at FindAGrave 

 





“An Eye-Witness,” 17th Virginia Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

18 07 2020

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN.

An “Eye-Witness” of this fight desires us to publish the following, and an act of justice to the troops who bore the brunt of the action. Though rather late in the day for a description of scenes with which the reader is familiar, we comply with the request:

Too much credit cannot be given to the 1st and 17th Regiments of Virginia Volunteers for their good conduct in the battle of Bull Run on Thursday, the 18th day of July. It was an experimental or test action in which the enemy first learned to run, and first discovered the necessity of so doing to save themselves from our steady fire and determined assault. It had a most important effect on the battle of Sunday, the 21st. In both cases the flight of the enemy was most precipitate and disastrous.

Gen. Longstreet’s Brigade, consisting of 1st Regiment Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Co. Moore, 17th Regiment, Col. Corse, and 11th Regiment, Col. Garland, were ordered under arms and marched in ten minutes out of camps at Manassas on the morning of the 17th, and in quick time reached Bull Run, some four miles distant. We were posted in a bend or horse-shoe of the run on the inner circle and along the bank. As the movement was designed as an ambuscade, silence and secrecy were observed by the troops. We slept on our arms that night, and early in the morning were ready for action. About eight o’clock our force was posted by regiment and divisions at the most available points for defense around the circle and flanking above and below Blackburn’s ford. It fell to the lot of the 17th to be posted mainly around this ford – one division was advanced across the ford to the opposite bank as skirmishers; the other divisions of the 17th were posted on the bank within the circle protected by trees and undergrowth, ready to meet the enemy as they advanced over the opposite bank, which was much higher than the ground occupied by us.

The Washington Artillery was some distance in the rear, and several regiments were posted near by in case of necessity. About 11 ½ A. M., the report of a rifle was heard from the other side of the run, then another and another. It was evident that the enemy were feeling for us in different directions. Then came the fire of a cannon, followed by many others in succession. This continued for half an hour without being noticed by us. We supposed by this that our position was discovered and all hope of the ambuscade was at an end, for very soon the enemy were seen advancing over the hill. Our artillery then opened fire, which was followed by the infantry around the ford. The rattling of musketry and the booming of cannon continued, with two slight pauses until about five o’clock in the afternoon, when the fire of the enemy ceased altogether; and it was afterwards discovered he had suddenly retreated, leaving many of his dead and wounded, several hundred muskets and two pieces of cannon on the field. The enemy fired their rifle cannon at the hospital, though protected by its flag, and struck it. They also fired at the ambulances with wounded men in them. Their sudden retreat was in no doubt owing, not only to the bloody repulse they had met with and the sad havoc made in their ranks, but to the appearance on the field of two Southern regiments coming shouting at double-quick. The shout was taken up by our brigade, and the horse shoes rung with the sound of human voices, that for a moment almost equalled the artillery. Certain it is, they fired but a few scattering shots after that, and had we known they were retreating we would have made a [?] of it. We were expecting the attack to be renewed every minute. As it was, their loss, in killed, wounded and missing, was over one thousand. Our loss did not exceed in [?] killed and about 60 wounded.

The Washington Artillery on that day immortalized itself. For coolness and courage, [?] of management of the guns, and rapidity and certainty of fire, it could not be excelled. Every man in the 1st and 17th did his whole duty. From position they, with the artillery, bore the brunt of the whole fight. Where every one fought so well, it were invidious to particularize.

Col. Moore, of the 1st, was wounded in the arm, and the commanded devolved on Lt. Col. Fry, who was assisted by Maj. Skinner. – Col. Corse, Lt. Col. Munford, and Adjutant Humphreys of the 17th, and Major Brent, were on the field in command in different parts of it. All these officers were in the thickest of the fight and displayed utmost coolness and courage. But nothing could exceed the cool determination and fearless daring of the officers and men of the line in the 17th Regiment. The writer could not obtain a list of the killed and wounded.

The Captains seemed to be marked by the enemy. Captain Dulaney, of the Fairfax Rifles, was shot in the shoulder by a musket ball. Captain Prestman was shot in the arm and side by buck-shot. These officers were taken from the field. Captain B. H. Shackelford, of the Warrenton Rifles, was shot in the ankle by a cannister ball. He bandaged the wound and remained upon the field till the close of the fight. O doubt is entertained that all of them will recover.

General Longstreet seemed to be everywhere, regardless of danger, and unconscious of what a conspicuous mark he presented to the enemy.

All praise, say we, to the [?] Regiments of Longstreet’s Brigade, and [?] of the first and seventeenth regiments.

An Eye-Witness

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/3/1861

Clipping Image





Leesburg Sojourn

28 03 2020

This past March 10, in a time I now refer to as “Fo da quo,” (before the quarantine), I delivered a program on McDowell’s Plan for First Bull Run to the good folks at the Loudoun County Civil War Round Table in the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg, VA. But before the meeting (7:30 that evening), round table member and friend Craig Swain of To the Sound of the Guns showed me a few of the local Leesburg sites. Click on the thumbnails for great-big-giant images.

First, a few Leesburg dwellings related to Robert E. Lee and the Confederate invasion of Maryland in the summer of 1862.

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John Janey house. One time VA Governor, nearly Vice President (and President), secession convention supervisor. R. E. Lee visited here after Chantilly/Ox Hill prior to Antietam.

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Glenfiddich. R. E. Lee stayed here and met with Jackson & Longstreet inside to plan Maryland Campaign. Currently for sale.

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Home of the physician who tended to R. E. Lee’s injured hands. Across the street from Glenfiddich. Also for sale.

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Detail of physician’s house for sale sign. I guess this means it’s haunted!

Next stop was White’s Ford across the Potomac, used by the Army of Northern Virginia prior to Antietam and after Early’s raid on Washington.

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Wayside at White’s Ford (text by Craig Swain)

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Wayside at White’s Ford (text by Craig Swain)

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Wayside at White’s Ford (text by Craig Swain)

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Wayside at White’s Ford (text by Craig Swain)

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Potomac River near White’s Ford. View to Maryland and C&O Canal.

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Original road trace to White’s Ford.

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White’s Ford view to Maryland. Much of the Army of Northern Virginia crossed here to advance into Maryland in 1862.

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White’s Ford view to Maryland. Much of the Army of Northern Virginia crossed here to advance into Maryland in 1862.

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White’s Ford view to Maryland. Much of the Army of Northern Virginia crossed here to advance into Maryland in 1862.

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Craig Swain and me at White’s Ford.

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White’s Ford view to Maryland. Much of the Army of Northern Virginia crossed here to advance into Maryland in 1862.

Our last stop was Union Cemetery in town.

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Grave of and memorial to Elijah White, owner of White’s Ford and White’s Ferry, commander of “White’s Comanches,” Union Cemetery, Leesburg.

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Memorial to Elijah White, owner of White’s Ford and White’s Ferry, commander of “White’s Comanches,” Union Cemetery, Leesburg.

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Memorial to Elijah White, owner of White’s Ford and White’s Ferry, commander of “White’s Comanches,” Union Cemetery, Leesburg. “A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ.”

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Grave of Elijah White, owner of White’s Ford and White’s Ferry, commander of “White’s Comanches.” Union Cemetery, Leesburg.

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Grave of Elijah White, owner of White’s Ford and White’s Ferry, commander of “White’s Comanches.” Union Cemetery, Leesburg.

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Cenotaph to engineer Morris Wampler, who designed Fort (Battery) Wagner, Charleston, SC, and was mortally wounded there. Union Cemetery, Leesburg, VA.

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Memorial to unknown Confederate dead, Union Cemetery, Leesburg, VA.

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Memorial to unknown Confederate dead, Union Cemetery, Leesburg, VA.

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Memorial to unknown Confederate dead, Union Cemetery, Leesburg, VA.

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Memorial to unknown Confederate dead, Union Cemetery, Leesburg, VA.

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Memorial to unknown Confederate dead, Union Cemetery, Leesburg, VA.

A good day. A summary of the meeting that night to follow.





Interview: Hessler & Isenberg, “Gettysburg’s Peach Orchard”

10 09 2019

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A few weeks ago, I gave very brief previews of a number of recent Savas Beatie releases here. Among them was Gettysburg’s Peach Orchard: Longstreet, Sickles, and the Bloody Fight for the “Commanding Ground” Along the Emmitsburg Road, by Licensed Gettysburg Battlefield Guides Jim Hessler and Britt Isenberg. The authors recently took some time to discuss this new book.

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BR: Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?

JH: In addition to spending the majority of my working life in financial services, I have been a Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide since 2003. My second career as a public historian took off with my first book, Sickles at Gettysburg, which was published by Savas Beatie in 2009. In 2015, I co-authored Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg with Wayne Motts and maps by Steve Stanley. I speak across the country at Civil War Round Tables and have had various media appearances on venues such as the Travel Channel and NPR Radio. I also recently started co-hosting The Battle of Gettysburg Podcast with fellow Guide Eric Lindblade. So I always keep pretty busy. I am blessed to have a family that allows me to do this while still working and giving battlefield tours.

BI: I grew up in Millersburg, Pennsylvania and graduated from Millersville University in 2008 with a BA. I spent a few years working in the airline industry and with Fedex Express before taking the guide exam and passing in 2014. I’ve been guiding full-time for five years now.

BR: Britt, we’ve heard from Jim on this before, but what got you interested in the Civil War? Who/what were your early influences?

BI: I was fortunate enough to know my great grandfather on my mother’s side as a kid and he was the definition of a Civil War buff. Some of my fondest memories as a kid are sitting with Grandpa Leroy and watching the movie Glory or paging through his Civil War coffee table books with all Matthew Brady’s most famous images. I then began learning about my own direct ancestors who served in the war, which exacerbated a new condition known as civilwaritis. Trips to Gettysburg, Antietam and Harper’s Ferry sealed the deal!

BR: You’re both Licensed Gettysburg Battlefield Guides. How long have you known each other?

JH: I’m not sure where and when we met, but I imagine like most people locally we probably met at O’Rorkes. I had finished writing both my Sickles and Pickett’s Charge books. I was considering doing something in depth on the Peach Orchard because I knew there were many aspects of that story that didn’t fit into my Sickles book. When Britt published his regimental on the 105th Pennsylvania, it struck me that he might be someone who would want to tackle this project together.

BI: I met Jim when I was going through the process to become a battlefield guide back in 2013. I knew of him long before he met me (isn’t that the story for all of us!), so we’ve known each other about six years. I really enjoyed his Sickles at Gettysburg and Pickett’s Charge books, but then I found out he was a New York Yankees fan and the relationship soured (not really).

BR: That Yankees thing should have sunk him. But despite that, you’ve written Peach Orchard together. How did you come to the decision to write it in tandem, and how does that process work? How do your positions as guides inform this book?

JH: Since I had done my Sickles book and Britt had done his 105th PA book, it was obvious that we both had enough interest on this part of the field to complete books. Many people try to write books and never finish, so knowing that we both had the ability to finish was important. I’m not a proponent of telling people, “This contribution was mine and that was his,” since it’s either a team effort or it isn’t, but the best part of working with someone is that both parties can add stories that the other one might not know. You don’t know what you don’t know. As for being Guides, the obvious answer is “we spend a lot of time on the ground and know the terrain.” But beyond that, we get to audition stories for audiences and figure out which ones work well, and which ones don’t, long before we have to commit them to paper. Many Gettysburg buffs look at Battlefield Guides and say, “Oh, I could easily do that,” but the art to it is really being able to tell stories concisely. That skill hopefully lends itself to writing.

BR: Why yet another microstudy of Gettysburg?

JH: Why not? Why do we always have to answer this question? But seriously, because if people are still interested in the Civil War, then Gettysburg is the battle that still garners the most interest. As for the Peach Orchard, amazingly this topic has NEVER been done in a full-length study before. Beyond the Sickles and Longstreet stuff, we wanted to tell the stories of the people who lived and fought at the Peach Orchard. We think many of these stories have not been told before, and certainly not in one book like this. Plus Sickles and Longstreet, our two primary protagonists, still generate heat among Gettysburg enthusiasts. Someone asks a question about Sickles, and usually gets eviscerated for it, at least once per day in social media forums.

BR: How would you characterize the popular notion of the Peach Orchard operations, and how does your book conflict with that notion?

JH: Traditional interpretation of the Peach Orchard is always something like this: “Sickles murdered his wife’s lover before becoming a dreaded political general. Then he told Meade to ‘go to hell,’ and moved into the Peach Orchard. Sickles created a salient which is bad. Very bad. General Barksdale’s attack was the most amazing of the war and broke Sickles’s salient. Afterwards, Sickles dated the Queen of Spain.” Well, we try to tell the REAL story, starting with the story of the Sherfy family themselves. As for the battle itself, we provide the details on who defended the orchard, their actions, and how those actions contributed to Barksdale’s success. Sickles, Longstreet, and Barksdale are part of our story, of course, but we try to tell it in a broader context.

BI: Most of the focus on the second day at Gettysburg is a mile too far east. The Peach Orchard often gets a mere drive-by as people make their way to Little Round Top. We think the Peach Orchard is second only to Cemetery Hill as the most important piece of ground on the second day of the battle. Also, it’s often forgotten, but the Peach Orchard was an important part of R.E. Lee’s day two objectives and the decisions made by commanders on both sides because of the terrain’s deceptive nature drove the outcome of the battle. Instead of being just a footnote, the significance of the orchard should be elevated since it is integral to understanding why the battle played out as it did.

BR: Can you describe how long it took to write the book, what the stumbling blocks were, what you discovered along the way that surprised you or went against the grain, what firmed up what you already knew? When did you know you were “done”?

JH: I think we were working on it for close to 4 years. We both had some preliminary research done due to our prior projects, but we soon realized that we still needed to do much more research to fill in blanks on other regiments and individuals. While it didn’t surprise me, in terms of going ‘against the grain’, we wanted to emphasize why this action is so important vs. less significant but more heralded actions at places like Little Round Top and the Wheatfield. Lee repeatedly referred to the Peach Orchard and Emmitsburg Road as significant on both July 2 and July 3, yet not enough people appreciate it. In fact, the Peach Orchard on July 2 directly leads to Lee’s decisions on July 3. While several friends pre-read our manuscript and provided very useful commentary, we also shocked several of them by including July 3 in our scope. They were shocked because they had been conditioned to think of the Peach Orchard as “Day Two” only. We need to stop looking at this battle as isolated days. The actions of one day lead to the next day, and nowhere is that more evident than at the Peach Orchard.

BR: Can you describe your research and writing process? What online and brick and mortar sources did you rely on most?

JH: We create an outline; we research; we write; we edit; we edit again; we edit again. Then we turned it over to an editor and edited it again. And again. Our bibliography is pretty extensive; I’ll let readers check it out. As for the sources relied on the most, first and foremost remains the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion. Yes, I know their limitations, but they remain the place to start.

BI: We both spent a lot of time searching for sources in so many different places. Like most Civil War studies, the source we leaned on the most was the Official Records. Beyond that, newspapers were a great help. Our fellow guides and other historians from the Civil War community were also extremely helpful in pointing us towards other less-publicized accounts.

BR: How has the book been received so far?

JH: It’s been received very well and we thank everyone for that. I admit I wasn’t originally sure if the market wanted a “Peach Orchard book” but we tried to strike a balance between military and human interest. We seem to have accomplished that. I am very proud of the book and think it stands up equally to my prior books.

BR: What’s next for you?

JH: I am currently enjoying co-hosting The Battle of Gettysburg Podcast. I know I am supposed to say, “I will keep writing history for the joy of creating,” but I’ve decided that writing history is too thankless. Writers of history need to be: informative, entertaining but not too fluffy, new but not revisionist, have great maps, have rare photos, have detailed but not too detailed footnotes at the bottom of the page, not use end notes (except for the one person in ten who prefers end notes), and have an extensive bibliography of primary sources. All for little to no money, so that social media warriors can critique it and then forget it in 12 months. So I might be finished with this phase of my career. I am proud of the three full-length books that are on my resume. Or I might do a book on Custer and the Little Bighorn, which I have been promising for years because I enjoy being miserable.

BI: I’ll tell you one thing… I’m never writing a book again!!! No, I do have a couple other projects in mind, but first and foremost I’m taking a break. Then I’m going to continue work on a regimental history of the 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry and maybe a photo study of cavalrymen from the Cumberland Valley. We’ll see what happens…