Pvt. Matthew S. Ramsey, Co. D, 5th Alabama Infantry, Before the Battle

17 01 2022

From the Seat of War.

For the Beacon.

Farr’s X Roads,
Near Fairfax C. H., Va.,
July 15, 1861.

Col. Harvey – Dear Sir: – I guess you think our correspondence is about to cease entirely. We are not allowed to furnish any news now for publication. Orders to this effect are continually being read before the Regiments of the Brigade. We are on the advance line of General Beauregard’s army. Our station is fifteen miles from Manassas Junction. We do not know when an engagement will take place here. I am altogether in doubt as to that now. Our Regiment is filled now by a fine looking Company from Barbour county, Ala., Capt. Blackfort. The Flying Artillery Company has not been released from Pensacola. We are now very anxious to have them here.

The ”Greensboro Guards,” who are here, are now very healthy. – We learn that Messers. Miller and Bulger, at Culpepper C. H., are yet pretty sick. These are the only serious cases we have had. – come good men and soldiers will have to be discharged from the service in consequence of prolonged indisposition. I think Messrs. C. T. Briggs and James A. Loster have already been discharged.

On Friday last a scouting party composed of a Captain, a Lieutenant and 15 privates, marched nearly into the enemy’s camp unconsciously. They were immediately nearly surrounded by the enemy in pretty large numbers, who attempted to out-flank and cut them off. The Captain, knowing there was no use in making any resistance, ordered his men to make their escape as quickly as possible. They have all come into camp except three, viz: Robt. Paulding, of the “Greensboro Guards,” Fiquet, of the “Warrior Guards,“ and Walker, of the “Pickensville Blues.”* This is Monday, and we have heard nothing from them. – Paulding, who is the son of Major Paulding, of Marengo county, was one of the best soldiers in our Company. He was brave and daring. He always did his duty cheerfully, and never missed a drill on account of sickness. He was liked by all the members of the Regiment who knew him.

I have no time to write more now. We have received the Beacon pretty regularly since we came here.

Yours truly,
M. S. R

P. S. Judge Moore’s Regiment is ordered and gone to Winchester. Captain Van de Graff’s Company from Gainesvillle is at Manassas Junction. Mrs. Gen. Kerr is at Culpepper attending our sick. She will long be remembered by the “Greensboro Guards.” She is acting nobly. I would like to tell you more about our position, &c., but if any one communicates this, he would lay himself liable to be court-martialed; besides, it would do no good for our friends to know the circumstances by which we are surrounded.

M. S. R.

*A letter dated the 16th, from a member of the 5th Ala. Regiment, has been received here, which states that the tree missing members of this scouting party had been taken prisoners. – Ed.

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 7/26/1861

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Roster of 5th Alabama Infantry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Ancestry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Fold3

J. H. C.*, Co. D, 5th Alabama, Before the Battle

16 01 2022

From the Seat of War.

For the Beacon.

Fairfax Court House, Va.,
July 14, 1861.

Col. Harvey – Dear Sir: – Thinking that a letter from the Greensboro Boys would not be uninteresting to the readers of the Beacon, I concluded to write a few lines concerning our whereabouts and what doing. We are near Fairfax Court-House, pleasantly situated, having excellent water, which heretofore has been quite a rarity. We fare finely upon the fattest of mutton, beef, chicken, ducks, &c., which we furnish, of course, ourselves. Our duties are none too severe, though we have plenty to do. Our guard duty is worst of all, especially picket guards, as we have so far to walk, and over very broken and rough roads. Our drills occupy about five hours of the day, but the weather being very pleasant, they are not so fatiguing as they formerly were. We often think of the burning sands of Pensacola, and rejoice that we are so fortunate as to be ordered here.

We have had some pretty rough times since we bid adieu to the sunny clime of Alabama, but we went through them cheerfully, and “nobody’s hurt.” We had one march of seven miles from Manassas Junction to Stone Bridge, better known as Bull’s Run. We remained there only three days, then marched to this place, a distance of twelve miles, which was a very fatiguing march, having to march the whole distance at night. We, however, all got here safely. We did nothing the next day but pitch our tents and sleep. I think the Yankees would have worried us considerably had they attacked us at this time, for I assure you we were nearly broken down. We have been here three weeks, and have encountered no enemy yet, though we know not at what moment we may be attacked. Various rumors are in circulation concerning the advance of the enemy, – some that they are within six miles of us and still advancing, others that they are not less than ten miles from us. Some of our scouts were out yesterday, and found none closer than ten miles. We know very little of what is going on, even in our army; and if we did know, we are not at liberty to make it public. We are certain of one thing, and that is, we intend giving them a warm reception when they do come. I never saw so determined a set of men as we have. Every one is anxious for an encounter with the enemy. We have the most implicit confidence in the courage and good judgement of our officers, as well as in our ability to scatter Old Abe’s band of mercenaries to the four winds of heaven. Our Colonel has no superior in the Southern army, and will lead us on to victory in every encounter. The Greensboro Boys are the life of the Regiment, always in fine spirits, (I don’t mean ardent spirits,) singing and dancing nearly every night. They are now in better spirits than usual, for yesterday was pay day, and we walk about with our hands in our pockets with all the dignity of one who was worth a million dollars and had no poor kin. We had the addition to our Regiment of another fine company of Alabamians from Barbour county, Capt. Blackford. They look the same as all other Alabama Boys, brave and ready to repel the invaders of our sacred soil.

There is not much sickness in camp at this time, the measles have pretty well given out, there not being enough to go all around. – Very few deaths occurred in the Regiment, three since we have been here, and they from the imprudence of considering themselves well too soon after an attack of measles. We have Divine service every Sabbath, which is always well attended, and great interest taken in it. The boys to-day are variously occupied – some collecting in groups discussing the news of the days, others singing, and still others, and by far the majority, pouring forth the contents of a full heart to those loved ones far away – parents, sweet-hearts and friends. We often think of them and wish to see them, but knowing the cause in which we are engaged, we cheerfully submit to the toils and privations of a soldier’s life. We wish them all well, and if it should fall to our to never again to return to the dear ones at home, let them take consolation in knowing that we fell in defence of all we held most dear to us, and died face to face with the enemy.

J. H. C.

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 7/26/1861

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*Likely Pvt. John Henry Cowin, also a diarist.

Roster of 5th Alabama Infantry

John Henry Cowin at Ancestry

John Henry Cowin at Fold3

John Henry Cowin at FindAGrave

James D. Webb*, Acting Quartermaster, Co. D, 5th Alabama Infantry, On the Retreat to Bull Run and the Battle

15 01 2022

From the Seat of War.

For the Beacon.

Head-Quarters, 5th Regiment,
Ala. 12m Vol., Union Mills Station,
Fairfax Co., Va., July 29, 1861.

Mr. John G. Harvey – Dear Sir: – Since my last letter to you an order has been given by the General commanding the army that neither officers or privates must, for the future, write either for publication or private information the movements of the troops. This will circumscribe my correspondence, and prevent me from communicating to you much that would be of interest connected with the movements of our regiment. Our friends at home doubtless will be prepared to give a hearty acquiescence to the command, as it is for the good of our beloved country. Believing that it is not in violation of the order, I can give you, not in detail, however, our movements since I wrote you.

On the morning of the 17th our picket guard was engaged in a fight with the enemy. This engagement was on the Braddock road, some three miles from our camp at Farr’s X Roads. On the night of the 15th Capt. Shelly, of Talladega, with his command, was sent out to reinforce our picket guard. He was on his return to our camp, and was within a mile of the camp when he heard the fire between out pickets and the enemy’s advance guard. He immediately returned to their assistance. Before the fight commenced out pickets captured a Zouave of the enemy. He had with him a large New Foundland dog. He surrendered to a member of Capt. Fowler’s company. In this engagement W. L. Kennedy, of Greensboro, distinguished himself. He stood in an open field and took five deliberate shots at the enemy as they advanced. He killed two men and wounded two others. He was fired at by the enemy as they concealed themselves behind trees. They took eight shots at this noble and gallant boy. – Col Rodes announced him a Color Corporal as soon as he was informed of his gallant bearing. Two others of our company, who were of the picked guard, if not so successful were not less gallant in their bearing. George Nutting showed that he was brave and cool – his gun failed to fire – he stood unmoved by the fire of the enemy. The other was Joe Wright. He stood their fire and doubtless brought down his man. Since the fight of the 21st we have heard through prisoners taken in the battle, that we killed some 60 or 70, amongst the number several field officers, one Captain and two Lieutenants. The damage on our side was two men wounded – one a private in Capt. Shelly’s company, had the rim of his left ear cut off; the other a private of Capt. Fowler’s company, was wounded in the leg.

It will be borne in mind that Capt. Shelly and our picket guard made this fight – all honor is due to them – they checked the column of the enemy advancing on the Braddock Road. We were informed that in that column was 2,500 regulars and about 7,000 volunteers.

When the information reached the camp that the enemy was advancing on us, the men of our regiment struck their tents, loaded the wagons, and they were ordered, under charge of Sergeant S. Sowin, (who was lame from gout,) to move two miles to our rear towards Manassas Junction. The regiment then formed, and the Colonel gave to each company orders to march off to meet the enemy at a place some ¾ of a mile from our camp, on the Braddock Road, where we had thrown up a breastwork, all of which was done with as much coolness and deliberation, by officers and men, as they would attend a Battalion drill. As each company moved off, three hearty cheers were given for our gallant Colonel. As the last company moved off Col. Rodes ordered the writer to go to Fairfax Court House and report to Gen. Bonham that he would await his orders at out breastworks. On reaching General Bonham he gave order that Colonel Rodes should retreat. On my return to the regiment the enemy had been checked in their advance on the Braddock Road. Our men received the order to retreat with great reluctance. – As they marched off they gave many long lingering looks behind, hoping that the enemy would overtake us. – The retreat was conducted to McLane’s Ford, on Bull Run, about 5 miles from Manassas Junction. At that place we reported to General Jones, and he ordered us to this place to guard the ford on Bull Run at this point.

On the 18th the enemy advanced on Mitchell’s Ford, on Bull Run. They were repulsed three times, and retired to Centreville, a small town on the turnpike road leading from Alexandria to Warrenton. On the 21st was the great fight near the Stone Bridge, on Bull Run – the bloodiest fight ever made on American soil. Never before was an army so thoroughly and entirely equipped and prepared for the field as the army that advanced on us at the Stone Bridge. In all its detail it was complete. They came believing that in numbers they would overwhelm us. In a few short hours this immense force, with all its armaments, was overwhelmed, shattered and scattered before our forces, like the chaff before the wind. It will tax credulity to take in the facts. This glorious victory was won by the valor of our men. The 4th Regiment Alabama Volunteers, under command of Col. Egbert Jones, bore an important part in the fight. We mourn the loss of many a brave son. – They won a name for Alabama that day of which the most ambitious may be proud. It would be impossible for me to give you an idea of this great battle in the limits of a letter. The enemy fled in terror of our men. They left their dead and wounded, and to this hour have never looked behind them. To their shame be it recorded that they left their wounded to be taken care of by the enemy, and their dead covering acres upon acres to bleach the field red with their blood, or to be buried by the enemy. I could never have believed that American men would have been guilty of such brutality. We captured prisoners without number, officers and privates, and amongst others a member of Congress from New York, Mr. Ely, who came to witness the victory. We took 71 pieces of cannon, some 200 wagons, horses ambulances, arms, ammunition, blankets canteens, and, in short, every thing. As this force, in perfect dismay, fled before our troops, they ran to Arlington Heights and reported that we were immediately behind them. As the roar of the retreating forces reached Arlington Heights they were fired upon by their friends.

We were not in the fight, but were ordered to the battle field late in the afternoon, and reached there after a rapid march of seven miles just as the enemy commenced their retreat. Soon after we reached this bloody field we were ordered back to this place, it having been reported to the General that the enemy was advancing on this Ford. We hastened back and took our position. It is the hardest service we have seen. For four days wand nights we were in the woods without tents or cooking utensils, hourly expecting an attack. On Sunday night it commenced to rain, and continued to pour down all day Monday and until a late hour Monday night. All that time we were without shelter, not even a blanket, and with nothing to eat but hard bread and meat that was broiled on the fire. Our boys stood it well – not even a murmur. On Tuesday we put up our tents, and since then have been quite comfortable. Here we are awaiting orders, and know not where we are to go, or when we will have orders. Our young men are doing well. While some of them have not entirely recovered from the effects of measles, we are gaining strength every day. Our friends may continue to address us at Manassas Junction. Col. Syd. Moore is camped about six miles from us, neat the battle field. He reached Manassas Junction on Monday after the fight.

Our friends must bear in mind that I write under the limits prescribed in the order referred to in the commencement of this letter.

It is not inappropriate that I should say that shoes can procured with great difficulty. Clothing, too, will be hard to get here. The State of Virginia is one military camp. It would be well that thought should be taken as to the way in which our men in the field should be provided with hats, shoes, and a warm suit of clothing by winter. I see that out Court of County Commissioners has appropriated $3,000 for our companies; judiciously expended, it will be of great service.

Very truly yours,
J. D. Webb

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 8/9/1861

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*There were two James D. Webbs in Co. D, one, a corporal, listed as Jr., and another, listed as Acting Quartermaster (AQM). Due to the address as “Head-Quarters” and commentary on supplies in the close of the above, the letter writer is assumed to be the elder (43-year-old) James D. Webb.

Roster of 5th Alabama Infantry

James D. Webb at Ancestry.com

James D. Webb at Fold3

James D. Webb at FindAGrave

Pvt. Matthew S. Ramsey, Co. D, 5th Alabama Infantry, On the Retreat to Bull Run and the Battle

13 01 2022

From the Seat of War.

For the Beacon.

Union Mills, Va., July 30, 1861.

Col Harvey – Dear Sir: – I guess you have heard all about the conflicts between the two armies in Virginia. – You have also learned, perhaps, that the 5th Regiment of Alabama “opened the ball” at Farr’s X Roads, near Fairfax Court House. Our pickets engaged their advance guard on the 17th of July, four miles in advance of our camp. The Regiment soon marched to our breast-works, not yet finished, expecting to meet them every moment. Company E, scouting under the gallant Capt. Shelly, was sent to the aid of the guards. These parties exchanged many fires with the Vandals, and retreated behind our fortifications, having suffered little injury. We were already ordered to retreat, and finding the troops who supported us, right and left, had gone, the order was executed. We marched in quick time down the Braddock Road, in the direction of Centreville, and reached McLane’s Ford, on the Bull’s Run Creek, about 3 o’clock P. M. Pretty hard march. We removed that night to this place, where we all slept that night without tents, and many of us without blankets. Uon this march, Colonel Rodes promoted Mr. W. L. Kennedy of the “Greensboro Guards,” to a position in the “Color-bearers staff,” for having performed some deed of bravery – killing, I think, as many as two Yankees. On Thursday we were holding our position near this place, and could hear the sharp fighting in the “little fight” at Mitchell’s Ford. On Sunday, the 21st July, we marched upon the field just as the enemy was in full retreat. We were first ordered to flank them, but some mistake made in issuing the orders, caused us to proceed rapidly to the scene of action. If Gen. Ewell’s Brigade had been permitted to open a heavy fire upon the disordered columns of the flying enemy, the route would have been complete. We will not regret this, however, as our brave army had gained glory enough for one day.

The 4th Alabama suffered severely in the contest; yet they acted nobly, fighting after the field officers had been all killed or wounded. I learn that Col. Jones has died since the battle. Maj. Scott is not seriously injured. In the language of President Davis, “This was a glorious but dear-bought victory.” Many noble sons of the South fell on the 21st of July – a day long remembered in the Southern Confederacy.

Thus you see the Fifth Regiment, or, as the Yankees call us, the “Bloody Fifth,” has been for the last two weeks subject to advance and retreat without ever yet being brought into actual service. We have learned, since our retreat, that Lincoln’s troops boast of having whipped the 5th Ala. Regiment with the loss of twenty-seven men, – Glorious victory, that!

The “Greensboro Guards” are pretty well at present. Mrs. Gen. Kerr, who has shown us so many favors, has just arrived in camp. She is from Culpepper Court House, where she attends our sick.

Yours truly,
M. S. Ramsey

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 8/16/1861

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Roster of 5th Alabama Infantry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Ancestry

Matthew S. Ramsey at Fold3

Capt. Josephus Marion Hall, Co. A, 5th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

12 01 2022

Letter from Capt. Hall.

Near Manassas, July 29, 1861.

Dear Daffin: I received your letter several days since, but times were too hot to reply then. It was the day after the great battle – and truly it was a great battle. Those at home who prate about Yankees not fighting, should have witnessed that battle. Many of their regiments stood until we had literally cut them to pieces. They never gave back until we put the bayonet to them, then they could do as pretty running as any men you ever saw. Our men gave the New York Zouaves their especial attention. Those rascals fought until their regiment was destroyed by the Louisiana Tigers, who charged upon them with Bowie Knives. The Zouaves were astonished and stood still until the Tigers closed with them, then such cutting, hacking, yelling and screaming never was enacted this side of Bedlam. Not more than 200 escaped with sound bodies. As the Tigers closed with them they shouted, ‘Look out, Zouaves;’ which caution the latter would have done well to have heeded.

Wash. Williams was the only man of my Company in the fight. He became separated from the regiment in our retreat from Far’s Cross Roads, fell in with the 4th South Carolina Regiment, and fought from 8 o’clock until 4. He says one gets used to the whistle of bullets very soon. He fired 17 rounds and then supplied himself with cartridge from a dead Yankee’s box.

Our regiment is under Gen Ewell, whose brigade was on the right. The attack was made on the centre and left; and therefore we were not in the fight. We were intended to flank the enemy’s left and attack his rear. About 1 o’clock, we commenced the movement, marched 3 miles and reached a position entirely behind him, when we were ordered to hasten to the aid of Gen. Beauregard. – From this you can see how closely our left wing was pressed. If we could have gone on we would have captured almost the entire army, as we would have been in the rear with about 7000 fresh troops. I think we would have caught Congressmen enough at Centreville – we being on the direct road for that place – to have broken up old Abe’s Congress. All now bitterly regret the order that deprived us of such a glorious chance of hurting the Vandals with almost no danger to ourselves. We marched up the creek to the scene of action, and reached there, after marching about 14 miles in 4 hours, only in time to see a long line of dust made by the enemy on his rapid retreat. If we could have pursued him, we might still have done great execution; but we were too completely exhausted. No one thought the defeat so disastrous until the next day, in fact most of us prepared for a hard fight the day following. We knew they had heavy reserves at Centreville, and supposed the army would rally there. But they were so frightened that they never stopped running from our cavalry until they crossed the Potomac. We took almost every thing they had – 74 cannon, some 500 wagons, hundreds of horses, thousands of muskets, and millions of ammunition, numerous ambulances, &c. – The property we got could not be replaced short of 3 to 5 millions. The field the day after the fight beggars description. – Heads, legs, arms, dead bodies, wounded, &c. lay in one confused mass for miles. Where the Tigers met the Zouaves, that latter were piled five deep in many places. Many of the wounded Yankees lay two days in a cold rain and chilly air, before assistance could be rendered them. Their friends deserted them and we had to provide for them.

Your friend,
J. M. Hall

The (Grove Hill, AL) Clarke County Democrat, 8/15/1861

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Josephus Marion Hall at Ancestry

Josephus Marion Hall at Fold3

Josephus Marion Hall at FindAGrave

Pvt. Thomas Hudson, Co. D, 4th Alabama Infantry, On His Capture and Imprisonment

11 01 2022

[From the Uniontown Herald.]

Interesting Letter From Tom. Hudson.


Washington City, July 25, 1861

Dear Father – I know that you are all very much distressed to known my fate; so, I take this, the earliest opportunity, to let you know how and where I am.

It is very doubtful whether this letter will ever reach you; if it does, all well – if it does not, there will be no harm done. I shall have at least made the effort to let you hear from me, which will be some consolation.

I am a prisoner in the hands of the enemy, and confined in prison in the City of Washington. My health is very good, and I am treated as well – and, in fact, much better than – I expected. * * *

My letters are inspected by the Sergeant, and I cannot write you at length – cannot give you many particulars that I would like to communicate. I was in the bloody battle of Bull Run last Sunday; was in the engagement six or seven hours. During the battle I got cut off from my regiment, and for something like an hour or more, I was immediately between two batteries, alone. In that time I am satisfied 300 grape shot and bombshells fell right about me, knocking the dirt and dust all over me. One shell bursted a few feet directly over my head without doing me any damage. The shot and shell fell so fast and thick that I determined to risk the fire of a whole brigade, which was so close to me that I could hear every word that was said. I broke and run, and it seemed to me that the whole brigade fired at me; but the only damage they did was to cover me with dust. I dan about fifty yards, and was taken with that I suppose was something like sun-stroke and fell to the ground on my face. I got up and ran about ten steps, and fell again, I tried it for the third time, with no better success. I then determined I would try and walk along slowly, but did not go but a step or two before I dropped down, completely exhausted. I was in that condition when a company came up and took me prisoner. * * *

Our company officers behaved bravely in the fight; every time I saw Dr. H.* he was in the thickest of it, urging the boys on.

We have been visited by a great many ladies and gentlemen, and have been very kindly treated by them. We have been furnished with clothing, and a great many little things which are very acceptable to persons in our situation, by the ladies; they send something good to eat every day. I wish it was in my power to repay these “good Samaritans” for their kindness to us in this out time of need. Senator Breckinridge, Vorhees, May, J. J. Crittenden (the old wretch) and several other distinguished persons have called to see us. Mr. Ogle Tayloe and Mr. Phillips, formerly member to Congress from the Mobile district, have been very kind to us – offered to do any thing they could. I want some money very much, but I felt a delicacy in asking a favor of them, and did not do so. I wish you would send me some money as soon as possible. * * *

Give my love to all. I hope this war will soon be over, and that I may have the pleasure of meeting you all again around the family circle.

Your affectionate son,

(Greensboro) Alabama Beacon, 8/30/1861

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*Likely 1st Sgt. William O. Hudson, who would become regimental surgeon in 1862

Thomas Hudson at Ancestry

Thomas Hudson at Fold3

Thomas Hudson at FindAGrave

“C,” 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle and Casualties

10 01 2022

From the Montgomery Advertiser


Heroic conduct of the 4th Alabama Regiment.

Richmond, Aug. 3, 1861.

Ed. Advertiser: I know your readers will not regard me as obtrusive when, in the midst of many engagements, I give them, through your valuable paper, a hurried but accurate account of the part the gallant 4th Regiment of Alabama troops took in the great battle at Manassas, on the 21st ult.

This Regiment was ordered to march for Manassas on Thursday evening, the 18th July, from their camp at Winchester, and immediately set out upon a forced march, leaving their tents, and taking but a scanty supply of provisions. They marched all that night and all the next day, reaching, about dark, Piedmont, where they took the cars, arrived at Manassas Junction about 9 o’clock A. M., of Saturday, the 20th, and immediately set out for Camp Walker, which they reached about 10 o’clock of that day. You may well suppose the exhaustion of the men from hunger, exposure, and fatigue. Refreshed, however, by rest for the night and some food, and the enemy having opened fire upon our lines on the next morning (Sunday,) they were ordered, immediately upon eating their breakfast, to take up their line of march in the direction of where the firing first opened. They were marched very hurriedly some three or four miles in that direction, but it was ascertained that this firing was a feint on the part of the enemy to withdraw our troops from the point where they really intended to attack us, and they were suddenly marched in double quick time some two miles to the left of the line of battle, where they arrived greatly exhausted, the day being excessively hot, and they with but little water. Halting in a skirt of woods some three hundred yards of the enemy’s line of battle, the regiment was formed, and proceeded in double quick time to within one hundred yards of the enemy’s line, where they were commanded to lie down and load and rise and fire, Sherman’s celebrated battery playing upon them the while, and unprotectd save by occasional well directed shots from the gallant Imboden, who was comparatively without ammunition, his horses attached to the caisson having taken flight and run off.

In this exposed position, for one hour and a half, did this noble regiment struggle in the very jaws of death against the servile hosts of the enemy, and other regiments having been withdrawn to more eligible from the right and left, this regiment, alone and unaided, except by the occasional shot from Imboden’s battery, held their position, three times repulsing the advancing columns of the enemy, and holding him in check until reinforcements could come up.

Outflanked, and exposed to the most deadly fire of the enemy from three sides, orders were given for it to fall back, which was done in good order. It was in this movement, when the gallant Colonel of the regiment, Egbert Jones, who, though exposed to the galling fire of the enemy, had been sitting upon his horse giving command to the regiment with a composure which showed him to be insensible to fear, was severely wounded.

The regiment, confidently expecting reinforcements in their rear, upon which they were falling back, having gone through a skirt of woods and descended a hill, where they again formed line, and having discovered two regiments on their right as they descended the hill, drawn up in close column in line of battle, they were about to form behind these regiments, which returned the signal of our troops, thus alleging they were our friends. But as soon as our flag was unfurled, they turned loose a most murderous fire upon our regiment, cutting out brave boys down in considerable numbers, and wounding a great many, among them Lieut. Col. Law and Major Scott, whose gallant bearing a noble example inspired their troops with indomitable courage. Thus, nearly surrounded by the enemy, without any field officers to command them, exhausted by their unparalleled struggles with the enemy and forced marches, burning with intolerable thirst, and badly cut to pieces, they retired under cover of a skirt of woods to an open field, some half mile in the rear of their first position, where they halted and awaited orders.

It was here the gallant and lamented Brig. Gen. Bee rode up, and in the midst of the roar of musketry and the bursting of shells, asked, “What body of troops is this?” The answer, “What remains of the 4th Alabama,” was given him. He then said, with great emphasis, “This is all of my brigade I can find – will you follow me back to where the firing is going on?” “Aye, sir, to the death,” was the response, and they did follow him, and “to the death,” for, in proceeding in the direction of Sherman’s battery for the purpose of charging it at the point of the bayonet, this brave General and accomplished soldier fell mortally wounded. Deprived of its Brigadier General, its Colonel, its Lieutenant Colonel, and Major, and exhausted and badly cut to pieces, the regiment fell back and reformed, and awaited orders. The regiment remained on the battle field during the whole of the fight, preserving all the while it’s perfect organization.

Now, when we remember that they were contending against the trained regulars if the United States, supported by powerful batteries, is not the gallantry and persistent bravery of our troops beyond praise? The wonder is that one of them escaped, yet God interposed in their behalf. The prayers of pious fathers, others, sisters, wives and friends had gone up to Jehovah for their protection, and had constituted an impenetrable shield – had moved the arm that was stretched out for their deliverance. “It is God who hath given us the victory; blessed be His holy name forever and ever.”

I send you below a list of the killed and wounded.


A list of the Killed, Wounded and Missing of the Fourth Alabama Regiment of Volunteers, commanded by Col. Egbert J. Jones, in the battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861.

Company A.

Killed – S. M. Connor, 2d Corp; Leroy Edwards, J. N. Gilmer, F. P. Haralson, Edwin McCartney, Amos Logan, Henry Vogelin.

Company B.

F. M. Lutrell.

Company C.

J. H. Stone, R. B. Bohanon, W. A. Lowry, E. G. Ussery.

Company D.

David W. Pitts, 3d Lieut; W. H. Hill, Robt. M. Mitchell.

Company E.

L. C. Gatch, 1st Serg’t; S. H. Wimberly, J. D. Robbins.

Company F.

J. C. Turner, 1st Lieut.

Company H.

John Simpson, Jr., 1st Lieut; R. T. Burroughs, 2d Sergt; Thomas Stone, 3d Corp; L. Lorance, Pulaski Cadicott, Z. P. Ives, W. F. N. Smith, Sr., F. G. Bowdam, Jesse Hills, W. S. Andrew.

Company I.

W. T. Landman, 4th Sergt; J. F. Kayes, Geo. Anderson, W. H. Arnold, J. J. Buffington, Jas. A. Preston.

Company K.

L. F. Lindsey, Captain.

Total Killed – 36.

Company A.

Wounded – W. D. Huggins, 2d Sergt, Alec W. Crail, 3d Sergt, W. J. Apperson, Randall Berry, Chris Bowers, Jas. K. Blevins, Jas. C. Brancis, J. P. Hutchinson, Oscar F. Harral, John Robbins, B. A. Sentemeger, Jas. Shannon, Sam G. Todd, Allen Vaughan, P. J. Weaver, jr., Elisha Johnson.

Company B.

T. B. Dryer, Captain, L. H. Chapman, 2d Lieut, W. H. Wyme, J. S. Leonard, L. Lewis, H. H. Green, Jas. Taylor, T. J. Sinclair, D Guerry, Jno. Gillespie, Jere Lynch, Jasper Newsom, Lemuel Tennison, Jos. Sterling.

Company C.

A. C. Price, 2nd Sergt, L. A. Daniel, 3rd Sergt, Boykin Goldsby, 4th Sergt, A. E. Kennedy, E. A. Taylor, W. H. Harrison, sr., J. R. Daniel, W. R. King, P. W. Peoples, F. M. Cunningham, J. M. Jordan, W. H. Boyd, Geo. Mimms, J. R. Caughery, R. Q. Prior, Geo. Cleveland, T. R. Harville, B. J. Tarver.

Company D.

W. H. Long, 1st Corp., E. F. Christian, Thos. B. Edwards, J. D. Fowler, E. F. Gouldman, W. W. Gray, J. A. Harwood, R. H. Henly, Jos. P. Jones, B. lockett, L. B. Lane, J. H. Montgomery, Joseph Muse, W. P. Pope, R. N. Smith, Geo. Sayre, Anderson Walker, A. M. Walker,

Company E.

J. G. Guice, 2d Lieut., J. B. Bennett, 3d Sergt., W. T. Thomas, 1st Corp., J. T. Andrews, Blake Bearde, Chas. Floyd, J. H. Mason, A. D. McInnis, J. E. Melver, A. J. Mosely, J. C. Peacock.

Company E.

J. M. Strickland, J. A. Thomas, T. W. Tuck, O. W. Perry

Company F.

W. H. Taylor, 2d Lieut., Jas. M. Drake, W. T. Hamer, T. Benham, J. B. Stone, R. W. Hilburn, F. Trainer, G. Wilkinson.

Company G.

W. A. Lockett, 2d Sergt., M. M. Cooke, 4th Sergt., F. G. Butler, 2d Corp., Ira G. Tarrant, 4th Corp., Jas. R. Crowe, A. B. Downs, W. H. Fiquett, W. D. Johnson, S. W. Pleasants, S. W. McKerrall, George W. Stephens, S. Cosby John, Jno. Couch, O. H. Spencer.

Company H.

Pettus, 1st Sergt., A. W. McDonald, 2nd Corp., Wm. Moss, Jas. Jackson, Charles Weems, Horn Mason, Geo. Weaver, T. Kirkman, M. F. Briggs, Solomon Rice, Geo. Whitlen, Wm. Scott, Lee. B. Wurts, Henry Richardson, John Posey, Alec McAlexander, R. Foster, James Kendrick, R. P. Andrew, Chas. D. Stewart, Christopher Ronde, Isaac Lowry.

Company I.

I. A. Lanier, 1st Lieut., P. Lee Hammond, 2nd Sergt., J. E. H. Bailey, F. Bradford, J. Hawkins, C. M. Humphrey, W. M. Lowe, F. B. Spence, J. R. Eldridge, P. B. Fletcher, Henry Roper, William Acklen, Peyton King, Leslie Moore, J. B. Forrester.

Company K.

Milton P. Brown, Corp., Parker Cunningham, Thos. A. Williams, Thomas M. Oulver, T. Vingun, Jas. H. Williamson, Wm. Harris.

Total wounded – 147.

Company D.

Missing – Thos. Hudson.

Company F.

Drake, Sively.

Total missing – 3.

Field Officers

Wounded – Egbert Jones, Col., E. Melver Law, Lieutenant Colonel, Charles L. Scott, Major.


Killed – One Captain, two 1st Lieutenants, on 3rd Lieutenant, three Sergeants, two Corporals, twenty-seven privates. Total killed, 36.

Wounded – One Colonel, one Lieut. Colonel, one Major, 1 Captain, one 1st Lieutenant, three 2nd Lieutenants, ten Sergeants, five Corporals, 127 Privates. Total wounded, 150.

Missing – Three privates. Aggregate, 189.

The (Huntsville, AL) Democrat, 8/21/1861

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“W,” 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle and Casualties

5 01 2022


All honor to the brave and gallant men of this noble Regiment! Every Alabamian had reason to be proud of their self-sacrificing patriotism and undaunted valor in the battle of Sunday, July 21st, at Manassas. Every one who can appreciate the highest achievements of courage, must have his bosom to swell with admiration at the contemplation of the cool, firm, dauntless courage, with which the officers and men of the Fourth Alabama, in open field, maintained their ground, without breastworks or entrenchments, for two hours, under the galling fire of three Regiments of United States Regulars (sixteen hundred men), and three Regiments of Volunteers – numbering together about six thousand men, all well equipped with the best arms, having the vantage of ground, and attacking them in front and on both flanks simultaneously. So fixed was their determination to conquer or die, that they stood their ground for an hour after an order had been sent from Gen. Johnston or Bee for them to retreat. – High upon the roll of their country’s heroes, indelibly on the tablet of their country’s memory, deep in the recesses of their country’s heart, will be inscribed their “noble deeds and daring high!”

Surprise has been expressed that the newspapers and their reporters have almost entirely ignored the important part that was performed by the Fourth Alabama in the achievement of the glorious victory at Manassas. It has, generally, been dismissed with the mere notice that it fought gallantly and suffered terribly, adding the names of the wounded regimental officers. We learn, indirectly, from high authority, that this Regiment stayed the progress of the enemy, and prevented their turning our left flank, until the opportune arrival of Gen. Kirby Smith, with four Regiments from Winchester, caused a panic in the enemy’s ranks, put them to flight and gave us the victory. We cannot, therefore, believe the omission to give the Fourth a promi…[line missing]… but has arisen, probably, from two causes: that Gen. Bee commanding the brigade to which the Fourth belonged, was killed, and all the regimental officers, Col. Jones, Lieutenant Colonel Law and Major Scott, were all badly wounded, and could make no report, and the Regiment had no newspaper reporter in its ranks. We doubt not that official reports and newspapers will yet do our gallant boys full justice.

We return our thanks to a distinguished Alabamian, recently from Richmond, who sent us the following communication, in which he gives the only full list, we have seen, of the number of killed and wounded in the Fourth Alabama regiment, and pays a just and glowing tribute to these gallant defenders of our rights, liberties and lives. It will be perceived that the loss in killed and wounded, amounts to one hundred and eighty two – about one-fifth or one-sixth of the whole number, bearing mournful attestation to their unconquerable courage and desperate determination to win the day:

Richmond, July 29, 1861.

Although this Regiment suffered more than any other that was engaged in the battle, and covered itself and the State with immortal honor, but little has as yet been said about it in the papers. The following is a correct statement of the numbers of killed and wounded in the different companies:

Companies (K = Killed, W = Wounded)

Capt. Goldsby, Dallas County, 7K, 17W

Capt. Mastin, Perry County, 1K, 4W

Capt. Clark, Perry County, 3K,17W

Capt. Tracy, Madison County, 6K, 14W           

Capt. Dawson, Dallas County, 4K, 17W

Captain McFarland, Lauderdale County, 10K, 23W

Captain Bowles, Conecuh County, 3K, 17W

Captain Lindsey, Jackson County, 1K, 7W

Captain King, Perry County, 0K, 5W

Captain Dryer, Marengo County, 1K, 12W

Total, 36K 143W

All three of the field officers, Colonel Jones, Lieutenant Colonel Law and Major Scott, were wounded; making total killed thirty-six, sounded one hundred forty-six; together one hundred and eighty-two.

Among the killed are the following officers: Capt. Lindsey, of Jackson; First Lieutenant J. C. Turner, of Huntsville; and First Lieutenant John Simpson, Jr., of Florence.

Owing to its particularly exposed position, Capt. McFarland’s company, from Lauderdale county, suffered more severely than any other of the Regiment, or, indeed, in the whole army. Out of fifty-eight men in line when the battle began, ten were killed on the field and twenty-three wounded, leaving but twenty-five unhurt, and of those nearly every man was either struck by a spent ball or had holes shot through his hat or clothes. The following is a list of killed and wounded in this company:

Killed – First Lieutenant John Simpson, Jr. Privates Lucius Lorance, W. T. N. Smith, Z. Joes, F. G. Bourland, R. T. Borough, Wm. Andrews, Thos. Stone, Pulaski Calicut, and J. Zills.

Wounded – Orderly Sergeant H. O. Pettus. Corporal McDonald (badly). Privates James Jackson (severely). N. F. Briggs, C. D. Stewart, Marion Horne (badly). S. B. Waite, C. Weems, W. Moss, R. W. Foster, Alex. McAlexander (severely), Thos. Kirkman, Jr., John C. Posey (severely), Muncel Rice, Robt. Andrews, Jason Hendrix, Henry Richardson, Geo. Weaver, C. Rowell, Wm. Scott, B. B. Foster, — Whitten and — Terry.

Throughout the battle, the whole Regiment, both officers and men, behaved nobly. The disadvantages of their position were terrible. – Owing, it is said, to some mistake in the transmission of an order from Gen. Bee, they were made to assume a position in front of the enemy outnumbering them four to one, and with every conceivable disadvantage of ground against them. In the face of thus fearful odds, they stood for three hours under the murderous fire which the enemy, with his overwhelming numbers and from his comparatively protected position, poured upon them. With heroic constancy they held their ground, held in check the advancing column of the enemy; not a man left the ranks, and no thought of retreat was given to retire. It may be safely asserted that never did veterans of a hundred fields exhibit more undaunted courage and more unshaken firmness. Col. Jones greatly distinguished himself by his cool and collected courage and fearless exposure of his person, throughout the conflict. His horse was shot from under him and a ball passed through his hip, wounding him severely, but not mortally. Lieutenant Colonel Law and Major Scott was, also, conspicuous – they were both wounded and disabled.

For the first time in her history, the soldiers of Alabama have stood under the fire of the enemy, and nobly have they sustained the honor of the State. Since the battle, Gen. Beauregard has been known to speak warmly in terms of special praise for the heroic firmness and gallant conduct of the Fourth Alabama Regiment. The troops opposed to them were the very flower of the Northern army – the Seventy-First New York and Rhode Island Regiments and some companies of United States Regulars. The thinned ranks of those troops will show how well our brave boys handled their guns. We do not doubt that all of our Alabama Regiments will do well wherever an opportunity presents, but we may venture to predict that none of them will ever surpass the Spartan constancy, the heroic courage, displayed by the gallant Fourth on the bloody field of Manassas.


Capt. T. Fearn Erskine, who has just returned from Richmond, has favored us with the following list of killed and wounded in the Huntsville Companies, in the Manassas battle:

North Alabamians, Capt. Tracy.

Killed – James E. Keys, Wm. T. Landman, Geo. T. Anderson, Jas. A. Preston, J. J. Buffington and Wm. H. Arnold.

Wounded – Lieutenant J. A. Lanier, Edward Spence (since died), Fielding Bradford, James Bailey, Wm. Forester, Wm. M. Lowe, J. R. Hawkins, Peyton King, P. Lee Hammond and Crawford M. Humphrey.

Huntsville Guards, Capt. Mastin

Killed – Lieutenant Jas. Camp Turner.

Wounded – Lieutenant Wm. H. Taylor, G. D. Wilkerson, Jas. N. Drake, Thos. Barham, Jas. Stone, Robt. Hilburn and Frank Trainer.

By the latest accounts, the wounded, generally, were doing well.

The (Huntsville, AL) Democrat, 7/31/1861

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Unknown Captain*, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

4 01 2022

‘Interesting from the Battle-Field’

We have been kindly permitted to favor our readers with the following extracts from a private letter of a gallant officer, in the Fourth Alabama Regiment, to a lady friend, giving an interesting account of his regiment’s participation in the ever memorable battle near the Stone Bridge, in which, his comrades say, he bore a distinguished part:

Battle-Field, In Camp,
Six Miles from Manassas,
July 24, 1861,

“While at Winchester there came an order to purge my Company of all men who could not stand a long, hard, forced march, which order being thrice repeated, we received the order to march at sunset on the 18th. We marched all that night and the next day, and arrived at Piedmont after night of the 19th, broken down and starved. Throwing ourselves down on the ground, we promised ourselves a soldier’s sweet sleep of a few hours, unlulled except by sweet memories, and unrocked except by dire fatigue. I fell down at the head of my company as soon as I gave orders to stack arms and break, and, after thinking a moment of the dear ones, fell into a dead sleep. In an hour, the rain came down in torrents, but all too weak to awaken me. After I was floating off, some of my men pulled me up, and I got under a rude shed which they had made of rails and straw, and slept until 1 A. M. of the 20th, when we took the cars. As soon as we were on board, and my men seated, I lay down on the floor of the car and slept again. Don’t you think I was sleepy?

“We arrived at the Junction, nearly dead with rain and hunger, at about 10 o’clock of that day, and marched out about two miles into the woods, where we spent the day and night, having received some food and a little more rain. Of course, we had no tents. You may imagine that we were not very sprightly. I was ill with fever and other camp diseases, my tongue furred, etc., and hardly able to walk. But, on the 21st, we received the order that all who were able to march, should fall into ranks. I was no longer sick, mu company numbered, rank and file, about seventy, and we started in double quick time, and marched, God knows how far, some eight or ten miles, until, at last we got near where we are now encamped, when we were told to load as we went, and that the enemy were right before us. We marched up a hill in an open field, and, just at the brow, were ordered to lie down, fire and load, fire and load, etc.

“The enemy were entrenched right before us, not more than 100 yards off, and the battle begun. There were opposed to our regiment, as Kirby Smith informed me, yesterday, (thank God! Smith is not dead, nor likely, in my opinion to die, thought shot through the upper portion of his breast with a grape shot – he said he would go to Lynchburg to-day,) nearly the entire force of the enemy. Our brigade was on the extreme left, and there the battle raged hottest. For an hour and three-quarters, we stayed there in that open field, exposed to fire from front and the right flank, and I may say to you, I hope, without fear of misapprehension, that I did my devoir. I stood up in the front rank, rallying my men when the troops were lying down. I saw man after man of my company fall dead by my side, and others wounded. Our position was a most hazardous one, but well did we maintain it. At last, we were flanked on the left, and then, from three sides came the murderous fire. We fell back, our men falling as we retired.

“Poor (Col.) Jones, who sat upon his horse as calm as a statue, during the whole fire, until the horse was shot under him, fell as we retired from the field, shot twice, once through each thigh. I did not hear of it, until we rallied about half a mile back, when I called for volunteers to bring his body off, to which a portion of my command responded. Not having strength enough to bring Jones off, after going sever hundred yards back with my little corps, and not being joined by others, I desisted, and proceeded to rejoin the regiment, which , under galling and tremendous fire from the left, had again fallen back.

“As I was bringing up the rear, our Major, Scott, (Charley Scott, of California,) fell right before me, shot through the leg. With the assistance of Spragins and one or two others, we brought him out of the fire, but were compelled to leave him in a wood nearby. Our Lieut. Colonel, Law, was then shot, and his arm broken, and he was compelled to leave the field, and the regiment, or the fragment that remained unkilled, unwounded, or undispersed, were left like sheep without a shepherd.

“The whole was terrible, the dead men, the wounded, the flying, the roaring of cannon and rattling of musketry, the bursting of bombshells among us, all combined to make a scene wild and grand. The most excruciating torture was the intolerable, insatiable, and burning thirst for water. On all sides, from wounded and unwounded, the cry went up, ‘water, water, water.’

“It would be impossible to describe the events of the day in detail. Gen. Bee fell, mortally wounded, leading our regiment [which was his pet and pride], the balance of his brigade being dispersed. Our regimental loss, in killed and sounded, was about 200, out of 650 in the action.”

“We got Jones and Scott after the battle. Thank God! There is a good prospect of the recovery of the first – the recovery of the latter is hardly doubtful.

“We have won a glorious victory, and the Fourth Alabama Regiment has won a name.”

The (Huntsville, AL) Democrat, 8/7/1861

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*Elias C. Spraggins, mentioned above, was a 2nd Lt. in Co. I. Captain of Co. I (raised in Huntsville) was Edward Dorr Tracy, so he is possibly the author. However, Capt. Thomas Jefferson Goldsby of Co. A was the senior captain who assumed command of the regiment and filed the after-action report. In that report, he used the term “calm as a statue” to describe Col. Jones as he sat astride his horse, which the author also used in this letter.

Edward Dorr Tracy at Wikipedia

Edward Dorr Tracy at Ancestry

Edward Dorr Tracy at Fold3

Edward Dorr Tracy at FindAGrave

Thomas Jefferson Goldsby at Ancestry

Thomas Jefferson Goldsby at Fold3

Thomas Jefferson Goldsby at FindAGrave

Pvt. Jesse W. (W. A.) Wells*, Co. G, 4th Alabama Infantry, On the Battle

2 01 2022

Waifs from the Seat of War

Extract of a letter from W. A. Wells, of Captain King’s Company, 4th Alabama Regiment, dated Manassas, July 22, to his father, J. D. Wells, of this city:

“Every field officer in my regiment was killed, and the men greatly cut to pieces; but we gained laurels by our gallant conduct. A six-pound cannon ball passed between my legs, and would have cut them off, if I had not been picking blackberries, and had my feet wide apart. A spent musket ball struck me on the shoulder, but did no damage more than to raise a knot.

John White fought gallantly throughout. – He shot one fellow down, and did not kill him, he thereupon seized his baggage, told him to rise and follow him, which the wounded man did. At another time when his regiment scattered, he seized the flag and charged on a lot of cannon, which were taken. He is unhurt.

The night after the battle, I lay down and slept all night by myself, where I could neither hear or see anything except the soft hum of the wind, and the groans of wounded men, and the heavens above me.”

We learn that John White, alluded to, is a nephew of Mr. Wells, and is not yet sixteen years old.

(Atlanta, GA) Southern Confederacy, 7/31/1861

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The only Wells found in Co. G of the 4th AL is Jesse W. Wells

Jesse W. Wells at Ancestry

Jesse W. Wells at Fold3