Pvt. Edmund K. McCord, Co. C, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, On Preparations for the Campaign

4 03 2022

Letter from Second Regiment.


Arlington Heights,
July 12, 1861.

Friend Cover: – The coast is now clear; all’s well, and I must write you. We are all in good spirits to-day, as we have had a refreshing shower. It has been very warm for 3 or 4 days; in fact, too warm to drill. The prospect of a forward march, with a day or two, “enlivens all.” We have orders from headquarters to be ready to sling our accoutrements at a moment’s warning; thus you will hear soon that a rebels nest is broken up at Fairfax. It may be well for me to remark that we have been strutting about for a day or two with our summer uniform; it is light and durable and is an addition to our comfort one hundred per cent. It appears that Uncle Sam has taken some notice of us, as he has placed General McDowell over our Brigade, and is making ready to pay us up in gold, (not depreciated bills worth 50 or 60 cents on the dollar,) and too will soon give us the U. S. uniform. The uniform first received from Wisconsin is of no use to us now or will not be at the words “forward march,” for it is pronounced by Gen. Scott himself as a facsimile uniform of the Confederate States Army.

We are within 12 miles of Fairfax, where it is reported 4,000 rebels are fortified; yet some of our scouts are somewhat disbelieving. We are between Prof. Lowe’s Balloons, which is a grand sight, and whish we think represents the American Eagle to perfection, which he has a bird’s eye view of the enemy.

The invalids of the regiment were examined yesterday with a view to send home such as we were not constitutionally able to stand the trip. Four of our company were examined and pronounced sound. We want no exaggerations, such as we have received from home about us. Since we started no one has been killed, no one mortally wounded, and not a single fight, not even a fist fight; we are peaceable here. Doubtless when we move we will be one Regiment among 10 as an advance guard, and should we meet of force of 40,000 remember our backing. Our good Captain understands his place as well as we could wish, and thus our company moves off with even (?) with any of rest. Col. Peck is spoken of by the whole Regiment with praise; indeed! we are all proud that we can have so gallant a man as our leader. Hoping that all my friends will consider themselves indebted to me in Grant, wishing all to write, address, Company C, Second Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers, Washington, D. C., care of J. D. Ruggles, Quarter Master.

Yours truly,
E. K*. McCord

Grant County (Lancaster, WI) Herald, 7/24/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

* McCord shows in the roster with middle initial K. He shows in records as Edward K., Edmund K., Edwin K., and Edmund H. His (likely) tombstone reads Edwin Kimball McCord.

2nd Wisconsin Infantry roster

McCord at Ancestry

McCord at Fold3

McCord at FindAGrave

Image: Corp. Felix Butler, Co. G, 4th Alabama Infantry

10 02 2022
Felix Butler, Courtesy of Manassas NBP

Felix Butler at Ancestry.com

Felix Butler at Fold3

More on Felix Butler

More on Felix Butler

More on Felix Butler

Obituary – Sgt. James S. George, Co. F, 8th Georgia Infantry

4 02 2022

For the Southern Confederacy.

James. S. George, 4th Sergeant Atlanta Grays.

The unnatural and unnecessary war which is entailing sorrow, and suffering, and bereavement throughout the Southern Confederacy, is marked by many revolting facts. Among these, and by no means the least revolting, it the difference in social position, family influence and moral and intellectual worth of those composing the two armies arrayed against each other. As a general fact, the Black Republican army consists of mercenary hirelings, unprincipled blackguards, whose high ambition is plunder and the destruction of domestic happiness, and whose most animating watchword is “Booty and Beauty.” In the army of the Confederate States are to be found in large proportion, men of property, education, talent, private worth and commanding influence. Hundreds of these men occupied positions of usefulness and honorable distinction. All of them, with but little exception, comparatively, are beloved and cherished at home, as sons, brothers, relatives and friends, of the best families in the land. Among them are no hirelings – not even a drafted soldier answers his name when the roll is called. – Prompted by no sordid considerations, and unaffected by unworthy motives of any sort, they constitute an army of self-sacrificing and devoted men, presenting a bulwark of defense against the vile invaders of their common country – a noble band of volunteers, whose highest ambition is their country’s independence, and whose most inspiring watchword is “Liberty or Death.”

An illustration of the truth of these remarks is to be found in the subject of this article – Serg’t James S. George, who left his native state, Georgia, on the 22d of May, as a member of the Atlanta Grays.

Serg’t George was quite young, being only twenty years old on the 22d of December preceding the memorable battle in which, as a soldier and a patriot, he offered his life a willing sacrifice upon the alter of his county – He had just entered upon the arena of public life a competitor for distinction in the profession of his choice. Having received a respectable elementary education, he commenced the study of law under Col. Printup, of Rome, and concluded his legal course at the Law School in Athens. During the few months of his residence and practice in the city of Atlanta, he had many valuable friends, and had given flattering indications of his future success. In the bloom of youth, surrounded by relatives and friends who loved him, the cherished son of an aged father, with talents above the ordinary standard, and professional prospects growing brighter every day, he heard the call of his country for her young men to repair to her borders and repel the invasion of an insolent and disappointed despot. Prompt and cheerful to respond with others like himself to our noble State, he obeyed the call, and was among the first who went forth to meet the dangers and liabilities of the camp and battle-field on the soil of Virginia. At Harper’s Ferry, and Winchester, and Darkesville, he was always at his post; and in the hour of threatened attack, was ever found ready to act his part in the expected struggle. He contributed his full share, bravely and nobly, in giving enviable distinction to the gallant 8th Georgia Regiment, and side by side with the dauntless Bartow, on the plains of Manassas, poured out his heart’s blood in defense of his country’s rights. As a messmate he was beloved by his comrades for his mild, generous and manly bearing. As a private, and afterwards a subaltern, he enjoyed the confidence and respect of his superior officers, and the friendship and esteem of his companions in arms. He was one of those who made the almost unparalleled forced march from Winchester to Piedmont – who waded the Shenandoah in the night – who hastened with the noble, generous impulses to the scene of strife, and who, weary and faint from hunger and the continuous exertion, boldly dashed into the thickest of the fight, and gloriously “illustrated their native State,” by a stern, unflinching courage that claimed and received from the magnanimous Beauregard the high compliment – ”8th Georgia, I salute you.” – Poor George! he heard not the proud recognition of his valor and self-devotion, for he lay upon the battle-field, stricken to the earth by the death wounds he had received. The battle of Manassas Plains will occupy its page in the record of great and triumphant achievements, and when the names of its heroes are registered, let not the name of James S. George be forgotten.

A. T. Holmes.

(Atlanta, GA) Southern Confederacy, 9/15/1861

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James S. George at Ancestry

James S. George at Fold3

Image: Lt. Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore, Co. I, 2nd Virginia Infantry

9 08 2021
Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore (from FindAGrave)

Image: Capt. Alfred Horatio Belo, Co. D, 11th North Carolina Infantry

5 08 2021
Alfred Horatio Belo (from FindAGrave)

Image: Capt. Asher Waterman Harman, Co. G, 5th Virginia Infantry

4 08 2021
Asher Waterman Harman (From FindAGrave)

Bull Run at Gettysburg: Augustus Van Horne Ellis

21 06 2021


Capt. Augustus Van Horne Ellis, Co. I, 71st NYSM from FindAGrave

In a few weeks, the National Park Service will be placing two boat howitzers on the field at Manassas National Battlefield Park to represent the position occupied during the Frist Battle of Bull Run by two boat howitzers of Co. I, 71st New York State Militia. The tubes which are right now being prepared for placement at the left end of the line of James Rifles of Reynolds’s Rhode Island Battery on Matthews Hill have been relocated from a monument installation outside the Fairfax County Courthouse. You can read all about it here.


From left, Brandon S. Bies, Andrew Bentley, Jim Burgess, and Jason Edwards, all with the National Park Service’s Manassas National Battlefield Park, disassemble two Civil War cannons that were given to the Manassas Battlefield. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

You can find the position on the D. B. Harris map here, but below is a smaller section of the map. Look at the far right of the line of guns (little crosses) farthest north.

Harris Map Matthews Hill Detail

Harris map detail courtesy of Manassas National Battlefield Park

This recent development reminded me that I have had a draft post sitting around for years – yes, literally years.

On December 3 of whatever year that was, I was at Gettysburg, tromping the field with friend John Banks. Our travels took us up Big Round Top, through the Triangular Field, along the old trolley path, and up through Devil’s Den. Not quite as many Bull Run connections on this route as on Hancock Avenue the day before, but I always manage to root them out. In this case, let’s take a look at the monument to the 124th New York Infantry that sits on Houck’s Ridge above the site of the regiment’s July 2, 1863 action, what Harry Pfanz dubbed “The Triangular Field.”


Atop the monument sits the unmistakable likeness of the regiment’s commanding officer, Colonel Augustus Van Horne Ellis. I say unmistakable, because here is the most well known image of Ellis:


I know, right?

As you’ve read in the link, at First Bull Run then Captain Ellis was in command of two 12-pdr Navy boat howitzers attached to the 71st New York Infantry (Co. I). There were at least four Ellis brothers in the 71st at the battle: Julius E., Samuel C., and John S. all served in Co. F. Julius, the captain of that company, was mortally wounded. (You can read an account of the battle by brother John here.) The ultimate fate of Co. I’s boat howitzers that were lost at the battle is murky (mention of the “recovery” of the lost boat howitzers in the 71st NYSM Regimental History).

A fifth Ellis brother was in the 79th New York Highlanders at the battle.

At Gettysburg, Ellis’s “Orange Blossoms,” as they were called due to the large number of recruits from Orange County, NY, were part of the Ward’s Brigade, Birney’s Division, Sickles’s Corps of the Army of the Potomac. On July 2, 1863, they were positioned along Houck’s Ridge above Devil’s Den. Across and up the triangular field in front of them came Texans of John Bell Hood’s division of James Longstreet’s First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. The “Orange Blossoms'” position and situation was critical. After slowing the advance of the 1st Texas Infantry at short range, Major James Cromwell, who explained that the field officers of the regiment, including Ellis, were mounted because “The men must see us today,” repeatedly requested permission to lead a charge. Initially denying him, Ellis finally assented. Unable to resist, he also joined in. The move stopped the enemy advance, but Cromwell was shot down when the reforming Texans fired another volley. Ellis encouraged his men to rescue their major, and as the Texans were pushed back, the colonel was killed instantly by a bullet to the head. His and Cromwell’s bodies were recovered and placed on a boulder to the rear of the regiment, and the 124th NY returned to their original position, the Confederate advance in that part of the field successfully, but expensively, repulsed. Of the 238 officers and men taken into battle, the “Orange Blossoms” lost 92 in killed and wounded.

Legend has it that the monument to the 124th New York on Houck’s Ridge (one of two monuments to the regiment on the field), with the full portrait sculpture of Colonel Augustus Van Horne Ellis, sits atop the boulder on which he and his major were placed by their men. If that legend isn’t true, it should be.

Augustus Van Horne Ellis at Fold3

Augustus Van Horne Ellis at FindAGrave

Augustus Van Horne Ellis at Wikipedia

71st New York State Militia Regimental History

An account of Ellis’s death at Gettysburg

Some info on this type of gun

Image: Robert R. Hemphill, Orderly to Brig. Gen. Milledge Luke Bonham

16 06 2021
Robert R. Hemphill, Orderly to Brig. Gen. Milledge Luke Bonham, Contributed by Erik McBroom

Robert R. Hemphill at Ancestry

Robert R. Hemphill at Fold3

Robert R. Hemphill at FindAGrave

Image: Maj. George W. Varney, 2nd Maine Infantry

14 06 2021
George. W. Varney, 2nd ME Infantry, Contributed by Joseph Maghe
George W. Varney from FindAGrave

George W. Varney at Ancestry

George W. Varney at Fold3

George W. Varney at FindAGrave

George W. Varney at Wikipedia

Asst. Surgeon Frederic de Peyster III, 8th New York State Militia

12 06 2021
Asst. Surg. Frederic de Peyster III, 8th NYSM (L), His Sister Estelle Livingston “Lily” de Peyster (R) Contributed by Ron Coddington
Frederic de Peyster III from FindAGrave
Frederic de Peyster III from FindAGrave

Frederic de Peyster at FindAGrave

Frederic de Peyster at Geni

Frederic de Peyster bio sketch