P. W. A., Co. B, 8th Georgia Infantry, On the Battle

13 06 2012

The 7th and 8th Georgia Regiments at Manassas.

From the correspondence of the Savannah Republican, we take the following interesting narrative of the part borne by the 7th and 8th Georgia Regiments in the great battle at Manassas:

Manassas, Va., July 23d.

Dear Republican — I had only time yesterday to give you a list of the killed and wounded in our company, without detailing the incidents of the portion of the fight in which we were engaged.

Last Thursday we were in Winchester. At 2 o’clock we left that place. We marched over the mountains, forded the Shenandoah, and arrived at Piedmont, a station on the Manassas Gap Railroad, about ten o’clock, Friday, having footed it twenty seven miles. All the baggage was left at Winchester. We took the cars after a few hours’ delay, and came slowly here, where we arrived late Saturday morning after a tedious ride. Then marching three miles and a half we encamped in a wooded ravine beyond Manassas, and slept that night on the open ground. After a meagre breakfast Sunday morning we received orders to march for the place of fight, which we reached by a long, weary, woody, hilly, circuitous tramp of between 10 and 15 miles, often going at double quick. We halted, breathless, foot sore and exhausted, but eager for the fray.

With a few moments rest the regiments were posted behind Pendleton’s Virginia Battery, exchanging shots with the famous Sherman’s Battery of the Federalists. Ball and shell fell around us like hail. The Col. ordered the men to lay down until they were needed to charge, which they did. For some time we lay in this perilous position, losing, however, but one man – a member of the Macon Guards – when we received the order to charge the enemy’s battery. To do this it was necessary to charge across an intervening hollow and establish ourselves in a small pine thicket, flanking the enemy’s position. This cold and fearful movement was made through a perfect storm of grape and in a manner that General Johnson specially praised.

Gaining the grove with the loss of Thos. Purse killed, and James Car??? wounded, we opened fire on a large detachment of the Federal Infantry, stationed on the edge of the hill above the thicket some fifty or a hundred yards off who had been put there for the assistance of the battery. At the same time a large force of the enemy moved up until we were surrounded on three sides. Our grove was one hundred or more yards long and a quarter as wide, and as dense as nature…to near ten thousand, who poured a murderous fire upon us, concentrated, well aimed, and continuous. It was a whirlwind of bullets. Our men fell constantly. The deadly missives rattled like hail among the boughs of trees. Never veterans fought more coolly than the whole regiment. Not a man flinched. Carefully loading, each one took special aim, fired, and composedly repeated the same again.

Adjutant Branch was shot almost immediately, and Col. Gardner wounded, and Col. Bartow’s horse shot under him soon after. The ground was in a few minutes covered – paved with the dead and wounded. After seven or eight volleys were fired by us it became necessary to retire. No support was given; half of the regiment were down, and the enemy increasing in numbers. Even when the order to cease firing and retire had been given, so unyielding were the men, that several additional volleys were poured upon the foe.

In retiring a large portion of the regiment became separated from the colors by the density of the growth and were unable to recover them, but another portion, consisting among others of all the officers of the Ogelthorpes, clustered around it, and slowly retired at a walk, from point to point, towards the reserve. At every step the storm of balls mowed us down, and with their decreasing force we returned it. The ground over which we passed consisted of a series of woods and small fields, and at each open space the officers would reform the men, and the fight would be renewed with the pursuing enemy advancing in strength. A horrible mistake at this point occurred. Our own friends, taking us for the enemy, directed a galling fire upon our mutilated ranks. The Carolinians, Louisianians, and 7th Georgians turn…terrible effect.

The regiment finally withdrew out of reach of the shot, which the 7th Georgia took our place. The remnants formed, consisting of about 60 men, with Major Cooper, Capts. Magruder, Lamar, West, Dawson and Ryan, and Lieuts. Wilcox, Hall, Lumpkin, Dwinnel, Harper, Cooper, and Butler, and Sergt. Major Menard, and marched back

As this small remnant of the gallant six hundred marched, they passed Gen. Beauregard, who stopped, fronted, and raising his hat said, “I salute the gallant 8th Georgia Regiment!” – Every bosom thrilled with the proud compliment.

When the 7th Georgia Regiment reinforced us, Colonel Bartow took the lead of that. He has been for some weeks Brevet Brigadier General, commanding the 2d brigade of Johnston’s division, the brigade consisting of the 7th, 8th, 9th and 11th Georgia Regiment and a battalion of Kentuckians.

Deeply cut by the destruction of his own heroic but ill fated Regiment, Col. Bartow sprang forward to lead the 7th Georgia Regiment, whose Colonel met him, asking where they should go. Seizing the regimental standard, Col. Bartow turned to the enemy, saying “Follow me, and I will show you where,” and led on into the midst of the terrible fire of the Federalists. The men began to fall; the bullets whistled by in countless numbers. On kept the brave fellows with unquailing sternness, the Colonel leading impetuously to the enemy, encouraging and cheering the men until they arrived at their appointed position, when he turned and exclaimed, “Gen. Beauregard expects us to hold this position, and, Georgians, I appeal to you to hold it.” The leaden storm poured with increasing strength. Hot and heavy it came. Bartow turned to give of the standard to the proper officer, when a bullet passed through his heart and he fell from his horse. Several men sprang forward and lifted him up with both hands clasped over his wound. The only words he spoke – which were his last, and which deserve to be remembered as the last words of…that fame has ever commemorated – were “They have killed me: but, boys, never give up.” He was taken from the field and died in a few moments.

Thus perished, in the prime of his noble manhood, a lofty gentleman, a pure patriot, an able statesman, and a chivalric soldier. His bitterest enemies could charge him with no worse shortcomings than those which result from a high-strung spirit, impatient of meanness, sensitive to injustice, and noble to a chimera. The manner of his death would eternalize a thousand less lofty souls than his, and…less holy cause than the one in which he so fervently engaged – for which he so eagerly gave up everything, and in which he so willingly and resplendently died.

His body was…yesterday. He was not the only one of our finest officers that perished. General Bee was killed; Gen. Smith was severely wounded; Col. Fisher of a North Carolina regiment, was shot dead; also, Col. Jones, from the same state.

It has been estimated that the loss of our army is 2,000 killed and wounded; for the enemy it must be over 5,000. the numbers engaged were probably 15,000 on ours, with an unused reserved of 15,000; while the enemy numbered, at least, 60,000. They were under General Tyler. They have fled beyond Alexandria. A gentleman from there this morning said that the fugitives in miserable plight were streaming through, and that all military discipline in the place…over.

I am convinced of one thing – that all this talk about the Federalists being starved, unclothed, and unenthusiastic is absolute fudge. We cannot compare with them in the perfection of equipments and general preparations. Their haversacks were full; their blankets are magnificent; their canteens and other conveniences are ingenious, their medical accommodations are superb.

It is all fudge, too, about their enlisting from coercion, and not knowing they are to fight us. They tell us such…to mitigate their imprisonment. They are…shrewdness is a Yankee characteristic.

I have many particulars to tell you, but I must close this for …your regular correspondent here,…will give you a general view of the battle.

The remaining Ogelthorpes send love to their friends. They mourn for their gallant comrades who have so nobly died.

Oglethorpe Light Infantry

—————-

July 25 – There was another error in my letter of yesterday, in relation to the…which the lamented Bartow and the 7th and 8th Georgia regiments took in the fight. Gallant as I represented…conduct to be it now appears that only the half was told. Gen. Evans’s brigade occupied the extreme left along the line of Bulls Run. Next came Gen. Bee’s brigade, and next to his Gen. Bartow’s, and after his Gen. Jackson’s. The enemy opened a battery upon Gen. Evans by way of feint, but continued to push on his flank movement. Gen. Bee was dispatched to hold him in check, but so great were the numbers opposed to him the he was gradually forced back, while the enemy slowly but surely advanced along our flank. It was at this point that Col. Bartow’s brigade was ordered up. Meanwhile a battery of six guns had been planted to our left to protect the steady march of the Federal column, and to drive back our forces as they endeavored to head it off. As Col. Bartow was proceeding to take his position he met Gen. Beauregard, who told him that everything depended on his taking the position to which he had been ordered and checking the advance of the enemy…if possible. Upon this bloody duty he immediately started at the head of the heroic 8th. He was exposed to a galling fire for nearly an hour, from which the enemy suffered terribly. His horse was killed under him by one ball, while his sword…pierced by another. His horse came near falling upon Capt. Dawson of the Stephens Light Guards, who behaved with great gallantry, as did the whole company. At length it became necessary to retire the 8th, so much had it suffered, in order to give it time to reform in line.

At this point Col. Bartow brought up the Seventh, which had been ordered to lie flat upon the ground until called for. During this time the enemy’s line continued to stretch away to the left and gradually to force ours back, when Gen. Jackson was ordered to bring his brigade into position. Placing himself at the head of the Seventh and taking the colors in his own hands, (the color bearer having been wounded, not killed as represented,) Col. Bartow proceeded again to occupy the position to which he had been ordered. He had procured another horse, and was not on foot when he fell, as I stated yesterday. The Seventh was exposed to the same raking fire from which the Eighth had suffered so much, though not for so long a time. Indeed the fighting along the entire line in this part of the field was terrific. It was here that the fortunes of the day vibrated first to one side and then to the other, and nothing but the almost superhuman exertion of the Confederate troops gave us the victory. You will be glad to learn that even the prisoners taken from the enemy pay the highest tribute to the Georgia brigade. They say they never saw men fight as they did, and when told that there were only two regiments of them, they were utterly astonished, for, judging by the terrible execution of our muskets, they had supposed them to number four times as many. I…part of the field the night of the battle was fought, in search of Bartow’s body, and the heaps of the dead on the enemy’s side, as seen by the pitiful moonlight, and the groans and cries that everywhere saluted my ears, told but too plainly that good old Georgia had that day dealt a giant’s blow at the head of the…

The Seventh, aided by the Eighth, which had been partially restored to order, continued to hold their position with varying fortunes, and never did quit the field until the battle was won. Bartow had promised Gen. Beauregard to maintain his position, and he did it as long as he lived, and the brigade did it after he had fallen. And the result was the capture of the battery (Sherman’s) that had decimated our forces by its fire, and the final route of the adversary. To no two regiments on the field is the country more indebted than to the glorious Seventh and Eighth from Georgia. Every man was a lion-hearted hero, and every company a wall of fire.

I have not attempted to furnish you an account of the individual acts of heroism, or the gallant conduct of other regiments; for the reason that the military rules adopted here render it difficult to get access to the proper sources of information. Besides, you will find in the papers of the other…more satisfactory account of what their particular regiments did, than I could possibly give you.

Thus far I have not been able to obtain a list of the killed and wounded in the Eighth Georgia Regiment, but should be able to do so to-morrow. It suffered considerably more than the Seventh. – Appended hereto is a statement of the casualties in the Seventh, which Col. Gartrell has kindly furnished me, and which may therefore be considered reliable. Let our people never forget their brave brothers who have fallen in the defense of the liberties of the country.

President Davis returned this morning. No man in the Confederacy regrets the death of Col. Bartow more than the President, who cherished a strong friendship for him. Immediately on his return to Manassas, Sunday night, he sent a telegram to Mrs. Davis, to break the sad news to Mrs. Bartow, who had come on to Richmond, to be as near her husband as possible.

One of the prisoners says that Gen. McDowell was the active officer upon the field but that Gen. Scott who took his position at Centreville, was the director of the whole battle. If such were their positions, the latter must have come near to be captured; for notwithstanding the failure to execute…to strike at the rear of the enemy, a bold dash was made from our centre at Centreville but it was late in the day and after the retreat had commenced. Had old “fuss and feathers” been there then he would have had the pleasure of being…to Richmond sooner than his army will ever take him. …prisoner says that Senator Wilson of Massachusetts and Bob Lincoln had driven out in a carriage to see…Federalists could whip us, and that they, as well as Senator Foster barely saved themselves. I have already mentioned that Mr. Ely, M. C., from New York, was taken prisoner. Another prisoner whom I did not mention in my last letter was Col. Wilcox, of the Michigan Regiment.

P. W. A.

Augusta Chronicle, 7/30/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy





Preview – Ralph Peters “Cain at Gettysburg”

17 04 2012

Forge sent me a copy of Ralph Peters’s Cain at Gettysburg, a novel of the Civil War. Please, please, please don’t take this to mean I will make any kind of habit of previewing novels. I won’t – I don’t have the time or inclination. This is an exception. I’m about a quarter of the way done with this. It’s a really well written novel – the characters have a lot of depth, and the whole work is more nuanced – and down & dirty – than The Killer Angels (which I think of more as a YA book). By merit, and based solely on what I’ve read so far, Cain should supplant Angels at the top of the Civil War novel heap, but I think the Electric Map lovers out there will cling desperately to the latter book for a long while. So far I’m very pleased, particularly with his decision to focus much of the book on 11th Corps. However, this is a novel; novels need certain character types that are black or white, and Cain is no exception to this rule. So far, though he’s not yet appeared in the book, it looks like Oliver Otis Howard is being set up as a black hat type. I can’t say that I agree with how Peters is molding Howard so far, as I think it flies in the face of evidence so far as his character goes. But this depiction of O. O. is conventional and comfortable to most, and I realize I’m in the minority with my thoughts on him (most people can’t get past an emotional – even irrational – approach to Howard, which I think says more about the analyst than the analyzed). I’m willing to set such things aside when reading a novel, particularly a good one, which Cain certainly is. I’ll post a fuller review when I’ve finished.

FYI, Peters is a retired U. S. Army officer, journalist, and TV talking head on military and intelligence matters. As reader Jeffry Burden reminds me, Peters is also the author of the Abel Jones series of Civil War detective novels, under the pen name of Owen Parry.





Charles Woodward Hutson, Hampton’s Legion, On the Battle

6 08 2011

22d July, 1861, Monday
University at Charlottesville

Dear Father & Mother

I have been in a great & bloody battle & am wounded. Do not be at all alarmed. It is only a flesh wound in the head; and as the ball grazed the skull & glanced, there can be no danger. It is only through the Lord’s great mercy, that we were not cut to pieces to a man, so fearful were the odds opposed to our division. Friday night the six infantry companies of Hampton’s Legion took the train for Manassas. So slowly did we travel, that it was Sunday morning before we reached that point. Our breakfast was not cooked, when we heard the booming of artillery in the direction of Bull’s Run. Orders presently came, that we should hasten to the field, as soon as we had eaten something. In fifteen minutes more we commenced our march for the field of battle. We were taken around to the left of the place where the engagement began, in order that we might secure against a surprise of the Camp at Manassas. This was evidently the game of the enemy. They played us a ruse: the heavy cannonading near Bull’s Run was intended to deceive Beauregard into meeting them at that point with his whole force. Meanwhile an immense body of their troops advanced on the left with the intention of outflanking our main army, getting into our rear & seizing our fortified camp. They were held in check, however, by a few battalions, including our own & two Georgia regiments & perhaps one or two more. The whole battle was fought not far from the base of mountains, & the ground was very hilly; so that they were unable to perceive the immense disparity between their numbers & ours. Had they known how few were the forces between them & Camp Manassas; they would doubtless have advanced more confidently; & every man of us would have fallen upon the field. As it was, their movements were irresolute; they advanced & retreated alternately, & I suppose later in the day Beauregard must have come up with his main force to the assistance of our shattered columns; & then commenced the rout of the enemy. Terribly disproportioned as was our force, we held them in check for at least three hours. Nor was the disparity in numbers alone; the enemy were armed with the six-shooting revolving rifle, & their fire was incessant. Never have I conceived of such a continuous, rushing hailstorm of shot, shell & musketry as fell around & among us for hours together. We, who escaped, are constantly wondering how we could possibly have come out of the action alive. The words I used just now; “we, who escaped”, have a sad, sad sound to us; for we know not yet who are to be included in that category, & are filled with terrible anxieties as to the fate of dear friends. I must trace now to you my own course through the action, which I can or ought to do clearly enough, since, I was cool & confident from first to last, knowing where my trust was placed, that no real harm could befal me & that there was a duty before me which I must perform at every hazard. All of our men behaved gallantly, though few were free from excitement. After being marched & countermarched for some time almost within reach of the enemy’s missiles, we were thrown, by order of Gen. Bee who commanded us that part of the field, to the left of a corps of Flying artillery (I think the “Washington” of New Orleans), under shelter of a fence. Here we were first exposed to the hissing balls of the enemy; but the men took aim deliberately & stood fire beautifully. The artillery having then withdrawn from our side, we marched down the hill, unfortunately in disorder; we were halted halfway down in a hollow place, where we had the protection of a few trees & bushes. Here, seeing that our men hesitated to fire upon the force below, became doubtful whether they were not friends. I entreated the Captain to let me advance alone near enough to the ranks of those who were firing upon us to ascertain whether they were Federals or Confederate. But the Captain would not consent, & wished to go himself; this, however, Col. Hampton would not permit. Seeing, I could do nothing there, I attempted to persuade our men not to dodge, satisfied that we could never keep orderly ranks as long as the men persisted in dodging. But all my efforts in this line were unavailing; the men were fearless, & advanced undauntedly enough; but, I suppose, they thought dodging was a “help”, anyhow, to escape from the balls. Iredell Jones,& the officers kept erect; & neither they nor I were any the worse for it. Our next advance was to a fence in the valley at the bottom of the hill. Here we made a stand, & here our company fought absolutely alone, the other Legionary companies having retreated to a yard at the top of the hill, where houses gave them shelter. Here they reformed. Meanwhile our men were subjected to a raking fire. I was the first who fell. I had put on my spectacles, taken good aim & fired my first shot. As I was in the act of re-loading, a rifle-ball struck me in the head, a little above the forehead; & the violence of the concussion felled me to the earth immediately. I drew off my spectacles & flung them aside; & not believing my wound a bad one, as it was not painful, I attempted to reload. But the blood was gushing over my face & blinding my eyes; & I found it impossible to do so. I knew pretty well the extent of my wound, as I had probed it with my finger as I fell; & as the gash seemed to be a deep one, I feared faintness would ensue from loss of blood, especially as there was a large puddle of it where I first lay. So, I put aside my gun for a while, & put my white handkerchief inside my hat upon the wound & tied my silk one around the hat. By the time I had finished these precautions, the company were in retreat; & with Jones & a few others I made my way to the clump of trees, whence we had advanced. Here protected by the trees & squatted down, these few detached from the company continued the fire. Jones having given me some water from his canteen, & my eye being by this time wiped pretty dry of the blood, I again attempted to re-load. But before I could do so, a ball from the enemy shattered my rifle to pieces. I now made the best of my way to the shelter of the house on the hill, the shell & shot of the enemy ploughing up the ground at every step I took, & the musketry rattling like hail around me. I lay behind the house quite exhausted, & much pained by the sight of some of my comrades badly wounded. Dr. Taylor examined my wound here, & charged me to use all my strength to reach the Hospital. While I lay here the body of Lieut. Col. Johnson was brought into the yard & stretched at my side. He had been shot dead a few moments before, while riding fearlessly up & down the field. I remained at this place, until the companies there began to retreat yet farther back; when, seizing my smashed gun I hurried along by the gullies & other protecting places to a field beyond the line of the missles, which before flew so thick & fast around me. At the extremity of this field was a house used as a temporary hospital. This place I reached, & after resting awhile, walked to the wagons in the yard used to convey the wounded to the Camp. The ride in was a long & tedious one, & I very soon became aware that had I ventured to remain longer on the field, I should soon have dropped & been only a burden to retreating friends, or else have run the risk of falling into the enemy’s hands, a risk which I would have resolved, if possible, by forcing them to cut me down. When I reached the Camp, I found many wounded comrades there, who were under treatment. As the Hospital was crowded with groaning men, some undergoing the agonies of amputation, I very gladly accepted the kind attention of a gentleman named Lamotte, who soon proved that he understood well the art of dressing wounds. He trimmed closely the hair around mine, washed out the clotted blood, bathed the wound, ascertained that there was no split in the portion of skull exposed, & bound up my head nicely for me, strengthening me also with a glass of excellent whiskey. I felt much more comfortably, when this was done, & the encrusted blood, which stuck like a black mask to my face, was washed. Much of my hair is still clotted with blood. After getting a little supper & having deliberated on what would be our wisest course, most of us wounded who were safe in camp concluded, that, as no tents were pitched & we could not be cared for properly there, it would be best to go down on the evening train to Culpepper C.H. where the hospitals are. The cars were crowded with the wounded. At Culpepper we found that accommodations could not be had for all; & some of us came on to Charlottesville, where we already perceive that we shall not want for gentle tending. I am writing now on a marble table in the hall of the University, where the wounded are lodged. Two of my company, Atkinson & Gardner, are with me, the former wounded like myself in the head, the latter in the wrist & side. Before we left Camp we heard, that the enemy had suffered heavy loss, were in full retreat, & that Beauregard was in hot pursuit. Many regiments lost almost all their staff-officers; two Georgia ones lost all. Col. Hampton was, by one report, dangerously wounded; by another, dead. Our adjutant, Barker, was also said to be dead. The Legionary infantry was certainly much cut to pieces. Our cavalry & artillery were not in the action, not having arrived yet. All the forces, on both sides, must have been engaged; & if the enemy have met with a serious defeat, I imagine it will be the last general engagement. Patterson was taken & Col. Scott killed. Many prisoners were taken. Before we left, fifty eight were brought into the camp at Manassas. The battle lasted all day, & was very bloody. Early as it was when I was forced to retire, I met few, who were not hurt.

I brought off my knapsack with me, & will be quite comfortable. We are very uneasy about our friends yet unheard from. Many, I fear, whom I care greatly for, are now mangled or dead. At the last accounts, Conner was leading our shattered Legion & perhaps other officerless battalions, & pressing on the rear of the enemy within two miles of Centreville. I trust he yet survives. I long to hear how the Carolina regiments fare. Kershaw’s was in the battle; & you know I have many friends among them.

As soon as my wound permits, I intend returning to Manassas & making every effort to rejoin the army, wherever it may be. I hope to be able to bear arms again, before we enter Washington. You will see, by my writing so long a letter that I am in no danger from my wound. My head feels heavy, & the place throbs, that is all. I hope you are not too much troubled. My love to sisters & all the dear kinsfolk & friends.

Your Ever Loving Son
C. Woodward Hutson

How we ought continually to thank God for the mercies which he does so increasingly show us! The Dr. here has just dressed my wound, says it is an inch & a half long & would have gone deeper had it not struck the bone, says I am a very hard-headed fellow. He is a kindly, merry gentleman, & I like him much. He asked me if I was not related to Willy Wigg, knowing him well & knowing his middle name.

Transcription and Letter Image

Notes





Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable

13 07 2011

On June 14, 2011 I was privileged to speak to the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable in the Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, Virginia. About fifty or so folks gathered for my presentation The First Shot at Bull Run: Peter Conover Hains Remembers.

This is a first-rate group and venue. Unfortunately I ran long once again and didn’t have time for Q&A, though a few folks did approach me afterwards with some good inquiries. My thanks to president Bill Wilkin, VP Cecil Jones, Secretary Dwight Bower, Treasurer Gary Mester and Program Chairman Chris Custode, as well as board member Craig Swain who helped book me, and board member Jim Morgan who graciously introduced me. My son and I had a great time.

Thanks also to the good folks at the Weider History Group, who hosted my son and me for lunch the next day and gave us a tour of their Leesburg offices.

Craig also made a video recording of the whole presentation and posted it to YouTube in six parts. The first segment is posted below. You can find all six parts here.





Back From the Vale

25 05 2011

Last Thursday evening I presented The First Gun at Bull Run, a program on Peter Conover Hains, to the good folks at the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Pinehurst, NC. This was the first of three presentations I’ll be giving through Julne 14, and it went off pretty well. There were some paper rustling moments I wasn’t real happy with, but hopefully I can rearrange my outline to avoid a repeat in DC on June 6.

Thanks to host Teej Smith for the wonderful hospitality shown on Thursday and Friday – perfect walkin’ ’round weather for Chapel Hill. Also thanks to RBCWRT president Frank Jones and everyone at the meeting for a fine event.





Interview: Dr. Victoria Bynum, “The Long Shadow of the Civil War”

13 07 2010

Dr. Victoria Bynum is the author of several books on southern society during the war, with a focus on dissent and Unionism in the Confederacy.  She kindly agreed to an interview with Bull Runnings.

BR:  So, who exactly is Vikki Bynum – inquiring minds want to know?

VB:  I became a fulltime college student at age 26. As a single mother with two children to raise, I enrolled at San Diego City College in hopes of becoming a commercial artist. I soon became interested in American literature and history, and eventually changed my major to history after transferring into the California state college system. In 1978, I received my B.A. from Chico State University. By then, I had begun to research free people of color in the Old South and was eager to enter a graduate program that would enable me to continue research in Southern court records.  I was accepted into the history program of the University of California, San Diego, where I earned a PhD in 1987. By then, I was teaching fulltime at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. I retired from Texas State this past January, shortly before the release of The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies (Chapel Hill, 2010).

BR:  How long have you been working on Southern Unionists, southern dissent, and Jones County, and in what forms?

VB:  I became interested in Southern Unionists in 1983 while researching the doctoral dissertation that became the basis for my first book, Unruly Women: The Politics of Social and Sexual Control in the Old South (Chapel Hill, 1992). I had originally intended to confine that study to racial and class differences among women in a slaveholding patriarchy, but quickly discovered that women played an enormously important role in Civil War home front conflicts. The Randolph County region of North Carolina, including portions of Montgomery and Moore Counties, was a major area of Unionism, much more so even than Jones County, Mississippi. Particularly in the NC Governors’ Papers, the voices of women and Unionists came alive.

Writing Unruly Women stimulated me to begin researching the history of Mississippi’s legendary “Free State of Jones,” another region of strong Unionist allegiances, in 1992. My own Bynum ancestors had lived in Jones County, and, I soon discovered, were deeply involved in that region’s inner civil war. Although my ancestors’ history made the topic all the more interesting for me, my larger goal was to uncover the factual history of an important Civil War uprising shrouded in legend. In the study that resulted, The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War (Chapel Hill, 2001), I focused extensively on the roots and legacy of political dissent and Unionism in piney woods Mississippi. An important tool for accomplishing that was my tracing of the frontier migrations and experiences of key families backward through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and forward to Texas.

To my amazement, while researching the migration of several Jones County families to Texas, I encountered another Unionist uprising in the Big Thicket region of East Texas, where, I discovered, several of the outliers were brothers of band members of Mississippi’s Free State of Jones! It was at this point that I decided to combine my research on Southern anti-Confederate dissent in a single volume, where I could show the links between these communities, and also compare and contrast them in a broader historical context. The result was my third book to explore Southern Unionism (among other forms of dissent), The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and its Legacies.

BR:  Tell us about The Long Shadow of the Civil War.

VB:  Long Shadow provides a comparative analysis of three Civil War areas of dissent: the Quaker Belt of the North Carolina Piedmont, the Jones County area of piney woods Mississippi, and the Big Thicket region of East Texas. The volume features six distinct but related essays, each of which centers around a particular story. Some essays combine the regions for comparative purposes; others focus on a single topic in a single region, such as women’s resistance to Confederate forces in the North Carolina Quaker Belt, the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction, or Newt Knight’s thirty-year effort to gain federal compensation for his Mississippi band of guerrillas.  All the essays reveal the varying importance of community norms, kinship networks, religion, and attitudes toward slavery in stimulating Southern resistance to secession and the Confederacy.

By approaching Unionism as a community issue, I avoided a Great Man approach toward the study of movements of resistance in which a single individual, such as Newt Knight [the central figure of The Free State of Jones] of Mississippi or Bill Owens of North Carolina, overshadows the complex societal forces that stimulated and sustained such movements. So, while Long Shadow identifies key similarities among regions of dissent, it also pinpoints important differences between them.

BR:  Did you find out anything while researching Long Shadow that changed—or reinforced—any opinions formed during The Free State of Jones?
 
VB:  The new materials cited in Long Shadow enriched my knowledge of Jones County, Mississippi’s Civil War uprising, and enabled me to expand on the story. They did not, however, refute the essential arguments I made in The Free State of Jones. In both works, I maintain that Newt Knight’s anti-Confederate views accelerated during and after the Civil War. For example, in 1861, Newt volunteered for Confederate service before passage of the South’s first conscript act (in contrast to men who later formed the Unionist core of his guerrilla band, The Knight Company).

Also expanding the story of the Jones County uprising is Newt’s second federal claims file, 1887-1900, which I obtained a copy of just before The Free State of Jones went to press. The file was rich with depositions that quote directly from aging former Knight Band guerrillas (including Newt), enabling me to include their voices in Long Shadow.

New research materials also allowed me to discuss in far greater depth in Long Shadow the extent to which dissent among certain Knight Band members extended into the New South era.  Like Warren J. Collins in Texas and Jasper Collins in Mississippi, Newt Knight displayed far greater political militancy in his later years than during the war, or even during Reconstruction when he served the Adelbert Ames Administration.   Newt’s remark around 1894 that plain southern farmers should have risen up and killed the slaveholders rather than fight their war for them reflected his disappointment with wartime governments, both North and South. Viewed in historical context during periods of dizzying change and violence, ordinary people (like Newt) responded to and helped to shape those times.  By 1894, the experiences of war, Reconstruction, and New South politics had reshaped Newt Knight’s beliefs significantly. The man who volunteered for Confederate service in 1861, led an anti-Confederate guerrilla band in 1863, and served the Union government during Reconstruction, was now advocating internal class revolution as the best way to have defeated slaveholders .

Long Shadow presents a wider and longer view of the multiracial community founded by Newt, his white wife Serena, and Rachel and George Ann Knight, the mixed-race former slaves of his grandfather, than did The Free State of Jones. As a result of additional research and wider communication with present-day Knight researchers, Long Shadow also provides a more nuanced view of racial identity among mixed-race Knights. We are unlikely ever to know the exact nature of Newt Knight’s racial views, or, for that matter, those of the three women with whom he fathered children. While there is evidence that Newt and his parents may have disliked slavery, as did a fair number of non-slaveholders, there is no evidence that they were abolitionists, or that Newt Knight ever advocated equal civil rights for freed people of African ancestry.  Rather, some Knight descendants insist that Newt considered his children by Rachel and, later, her daughter George Ann, to be white and that he encouraged them to identify themselves as such. This is certainly plausible given their physical appearance, small degree of African ancestry, and the fact that many did self-identify as white.

BR:  How has the book been received?

VB:  It’s a bit too early to tell, but so far I’m pleased with Long Shadow’s reception. It has been favorably reviewed by an academic historian (Paul Escott for H-Civil War), by a Civil War blogger (Brett Schulte, TOCWOC), and by a newspaper editor (Joe L. White of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger).  Privately, individuals have emailed me to tell me how much they enjoyed the book. 

BR:  What’s next for you?

VB:  I’m not sure what’s next for me, but am reasonably certain it will not be another academic history. I remain fascinated by the lives and struggles of ordinary people, but hope in the future to tell stories in a new way, perhaps through a different writing genre or medium of art.

That last bit is tantalizing, if cryptic.  I’ll be curious to see what Dr. Bynum comes up with.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine





Spinning My Wheels as Fast as I Can – Again

7 07 2010

Just an update on what’s going on here at Bull Runnings.  Despite an increased “real job” work load, I’ve got a few things going.  I’ve sent out the first round of questions for four author interviews.  The questions were fairly broad, so I think it will take a little while for the subject’s to get back to me.  But when they do, I’ll have nice previews of three very important books and one quarterly publication.

Bynum’s book continues and expands on her work on the definitive history of The Free State of Jones.  Clemens’s and Tagg’s books are perhaps the most important releases of 2009 and 2010.  And Lesley Gordon has some interesting plans for the long running academic journal.

Stay tuned.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine





Sherman’s March to the Sea

2 07 2010

Thanks to friend Susannah Ural for passing this along.  Anne Sarah Rubin has a cool site of interactive maps, Sherman’s March and America: Mapping Memory.  From the introduction:

Sherman’s March and America: Mapping Memory is designed as an experiment in digital history. Historian Anne Sarah Rubin is working on a project about the ways Americans have remembered Sherman’s March to the Sea in 1864, and wanted to bring her work to a broader audience. Rather than build an archive of documents, images, and essays, she decided to take a more interpretive approach, and this site is the result. A generous Digital Innovation Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) allowed Dr. Rubin to collaborate with Dan Bailey and Kelley Bell (both of the UMBC Visual Arts Department and the Imaging Research Center). What we have here is a small prototype—a proof of concept for our larger vision.

Mapping Memory is organized around both place and narrative. It consists of five maps, each one representing a genre of tales about the March. They are:

  • The Sherman or Fact Map, which lays out the basic events of the march.
  • The Civilians Map, for events involving African-Americans and Southern civilians.
  • The Soldiers Map, for events told from the perspective of veterans
  • The Tourism Map, which is about tourism and travel accounts.
  • The Fiction Map, which plots places both real and imagined that have appeared in novels and films about the March

When you draw the time slider across the base of each map, two lines, schematically representing the left and right wings of Sherman’s Army move across the landscape. At the same time, an array of map pins, or points, also appears. These points mark spots of significance, and the idea is that you can toggle between the maps, and see how different people remembered or wrote about different places or events. Not every place appears on every map, but most of them are on two or three, and Atlanta, Savannah, and Milledgeville are on all five. Clicking on a point will bring up a window with a mini-documentary about that place, from the map’s perspective.

For now, we have only animated one point per map, although ideally we will receive funding to complete the stories for each and every point. We tried to pick a range of places and stories, and also use a variety of styles and techniques to illustrate them. The active points, which are highlighted, are:

  • Sherman Map—Ebenezer Creek: A place where one of Sherman’s Generals abandoned scores of African-Americans to drown or be captured by Confederates.
  • Civilians Map—Oxford: The story of Zora Fair, the “girl spy of the Confederacy”
  • Soldier’s Map—Milledgeville: Sherman’s men repealing secession in a mock session in the state capitol building.
  • Tourism—Camp Lawton: The story of the prison camp turned state park outside of Millen. (
  • Fiction—Tara Plantation, Jonesboro, Clayton County: The roots of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with The Wind

We hope you find the site thought-provoking, and welcome your comments.





2nd Lt. Robert Hitchcock, USMC to His Parents on the Eve of Battle

20 05 2010

U. S. Marine Barracks

Washington, D. C.

July 14, 1861

Dear Parents,

Your letter came to hand yesterday.  I was very happy to hear from you at this time in particular.  Last night, after I passed down the line to receive the reports of the companies, I was met by Capt. Jones, who said to me, “Mr. Hitchcock, prepare to take the field on Monday morning.”  So tomorrow morning will see me and five other Lieuts. with 300 Marines, raw recruits in every sense of the term, on our way to Fairfax Court House to take part in a bloody battle which is to take place, it is thought, about Wednesday.  This is unexpected to us, and the Marines are not fit to go into the field, for every man of them is raw as you please, not more than a hundred of them have been here over three weeks.  We have no camp equipage of any kind, not even tents, and after all this, we are expected to take the brunt of battle.  We are to be commanded by Major Reynolds, I suppose.  We shall do as well as we can under the circumstances: just think of it, 300 raw men in the field!  We shall drill all day and work hard.  I have been very busy all day thus far but have taken a little time to write you.  I have left my things with Lieut. Wm. H. Parker, and my watch also.  He has my address and will take good care of my clothes, watch, etc.  By writing to him you can find out about my matters.  In case anything happens to me, he will send my things to you, and you can do as you like with them.  Lieuts. Baker, Burrough and Parker will be left here at the Barracks, and any of them would be pleased to ive you information in regard to me or my matters.  I hope the God of Battles will give me strength and wisdom to act wisely, and do my duty well.  I am not prepared to die, but I am prepared to serve my country, and stand by the Stars and Stripes till the last.  I am well and in good spirits.  May God bless you all, is the wish of your

Affectionate Son,

Robt.

P. S.  My love to all, and best regards to all my friends.  I am just informed that we leave tomorrow evening.

—————————

Camp near Centreville, Virginia

Head Quarters Battalion Marines

Col. Porter’s Brigade,

Corps Reserve

July 20th , 1861

Dear Parents,

We have been in the field nearly a week now and have not had an engagement yet.  The enemy has fled before us as we approached their different positions.  We expected to have a fight at Fairfax Court House but as we approached their works they fled leaving a great quantity of flour, Ham, Pork, spears, shovels, etc.  The works at Fairfax were good and they could have held us in check for a while, but would have been routed after a while by a flank movement.  The Confederates made a stand at Bull Run which is between our camp and Centreville an about two miles from us.

A fight took place at Centreville day before yesterday, the result of which we cannot get at, there are so many different reports.  We have been at this encampment about 36 hours waiting for Patterson’s and McClellan’s to come up with their columns in order to make a combined attack upon Manassas Junction where the rebels are collected in great force.  We shall bring a force of nearly 129,000 men against them: how the battle will terminate I know not.  At Centreville the  forces engaged were the N.Y. 69th and 12th Regts.  The 12th did not stand fire well after a little and went in.  They were in a tight spot.  They were in an angle in the road which was covered by a masqued battery that opened upon them rather unexpectedly.  The killed and wounded amt. to 29, six I think were killed.  I do not know when we shall advance, we may take up the line of march today, and may not leave here for a number of days.  We are without tents or anything of the kind, still we manage to live very well.  I am well.  This is rather a rough life after all, in the field as we are without the usual convenience of camp.  The 23rd Regulars are next to us commanded by Maj. Stiaso, I think.  Just now as I write, four men of the Regt. are receiving 50 lashes for desertion; rather hard I tell you.  I shall write as often as I can.  I cannot write more today.  I was on guard last night and must get rest as to be ready to advance.  I hope you are well at home.  Much love to you and the family.  Give my regards to all that inquire after me.

As every, your aft. son,

Robt.

[Civil War Times Illustrated, March/April 1992 – courtesy of reader Mike Pellegrini]

Notes

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine





Recollections of the Bull Run Campaign after Twenty-Seven Years – Henry F. Lyster

9 04 2010

RECOLLECTIONS OF THE BULL RUN CAMPAIGN AFTER TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS

A PAPER READ BEFORE MICHIGAN COMMANDERY OF THE MILITARY ORDER OF THE LOYAL LEGION OF THE UNITED STATES, FEBRUARY 1st, 1887  

BY COMPANION HENRY F. LYSTER, M. D., formerly Ass’t. Surgeon, 2nd. Regt. Michigan Infantry, and Surgeon 5th Michigan Infantry, and Acting Med. Director 3rd. Corps, Army of the Potomac

WAR PAPERS READ BEFORE THE COMMANDERY OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN MILITARY ORDER OF THE LOYAL LEGION OF THE UNITED STATES VOLUME I

The 2nd regiment of Michigan infantry had been encamped below the Chain bridge on the Maryland side of the Potomac since the 12th of July, 1861. Col. Israel B. Richardson was in command, although Mrs. Richardson, his wife, who accompanied him, was the power behind the throne. It was not until the Colonel had become a general of division, that he outgrew his better half and bossed things generally himself.

Lt. Col. Henry L. Chipman had accepted a captaincy in the 11th Regiment U. S. infantry, Adjutant Wm. J. Lyster had gone to the 19th U. S. infantry.

Major Adolphus W. Williams, who later to the surprise of many of us, became the colonel of a high number Michigan regiment, and was breveted a brigadier general of volunteers was with us at this memorable time. The major had invited the adjutant and myself to join his mess, which had been organized by purchasing through Higby and Stearns, a mess-chest duly furnished with stores, and by obtaining the services of the major’s nephew and brother-in-law as cooks and skirmishers. We were soon reduced to the point of starvation, although in camp. When a polite inquiry would be made as to whether dinner was ready: “Well it aint, you know,” would be the somewhat unmilitary reply. Any ordinary cook would have been dismissed, or sent to the guard house, but from a nephew of the major it had to be condoned. At last after a few weeks experience, Harve, the cook, was noticed kneading some flour and water upon the head of a barrel, and was asked by the Adjutant what these preparations meant, replied, “I’m building up some pies that will make your eyes stick out.” And they did.

About this time the Regimental Quartermaster used to spend the greater part of the day in Washington, nominally on business, but he too frequently neglected to order up the wagons with the soft bread and fresh beef; and when night came on apace, and he was warned to return to the command, his short comings began to loom up before his anxious mind and lie heavily upon his conscience. He would approach cautiously the outer boundaries of the camp, and preserving a strict incognito, with faltering accents and disguised voice would enquire whether the bread wagons had arrived. If they had, he rode gaily into camp, but if they had not, he faded from view, and did not return to meet those who were hungrily lying in wait for him. It was while in camp at the Chain bridge that we made out our first muster rolls. Those who have been engaged in this work will appreciate the service so kindly and politely rendered by Major Brooks, U. S. army, now retired, and living on second avenue in this city. Verily in these matters “a soft answer turneth away wrath and pleasant words are of more value than pearls and rubies.” The recollections of Major Brooks and of the very agreeable and courteous Capt. Charles Gibson, ass’t com. of subsistence on duty in Washington at that time, have remained as pleasant memories with those volunteers who came in official contact with them.

The soldiers of the 2nd regiment were greatly interested in a resident near the camp known as Bull Frizzel. He kept himself saturated with a country liquor called peach brandy, which rendered him very inflammable and caused him to give utterance to a good deal of “secesh” sentiment, and kept him in the guard house most of the time. As he was the only rebel in sight it was frequently proposed that we begin our work by shooting him, but calmer counsels prevailed, and we left him to the slower, but not less sure course, marked out by himself, and the worm of the still.

On the 4th of July the non-commissioned officers obtained permission to drill the regiment in battalion drill— 4th Sergt. Wm. B. McCreery acted as colonel. Col. Richardson watched the manoeuvres from the front of his tent with much pleasure and interest. Turning to me he enquired the name of the sergeant commanding, and said in his peculiar drawl, “Dr. Lyster these non commissioned officers drill the battalion better than the commissioned officers can do it.” He made McCreery 1st Lieut, and Quartermaster in less than a month from that date.

Our first march to meet the enemy began July 16, 1861, when we crossed over the Chain bridge to the sacred soil of Virginia. We were brigaded with the 3d Michigan infantry, the 1st Massachusetts infantry and the 12th New York infantry. Col. Richardson was put in command of this brigade, and Surgeon A. B. Palmer was acting brigade surgeon. We had marched five or six miles towards Vienna Court House where Gen. Schenck of Ohio had not long before run a railroad train into a masked battery, and we were all on the qui vive regarding masked batteries, and unusual things of that sort.

The sun was yet in the meridian when I heard a commotion near the head of the brigade and upon riding up was astonished to find that Dr. C, acting at that time as hospital steward of the 2d, was chasing a small rebel pig and firing his revolver at it while in pursuit. The soldiers cheered lustily and the doctor hotly followed the squalling porker intent upon having a spare-rib for supper. All this unfortunately attracted the attention of Dr. Palmer, who was riding with the Colonel at the head of the brigade. Dr. Palmer, with an eye to the preservation of good order and discipline in his department, drew his sword, and galloped after Dr. C. and the pig. The soldiers cheered down the whole brigade still more vigorously appreciating the added comic element in the affair, and warning Dr. C. of his danger watched the unequal chase with increasing interest. The pig escaped for the moment, and Dr. C. mixed up with the column somewhat crest-fallen, but was later restored to his usual equanimity when a hind quarter of the pig was sent him in the evening.

Nearly a year later, after the battle of Charles City crossroads, June 29th, 1862, on McClellan’s retreat, Dr. C. remained with the wounded and was taken prisoner, and went to Richmond. In this he showed the highest appreciation of the professional relation, but as a non-commissioned officer at the time, he ran an undue risk of being detained indefinitely in the military prisons; almost equivalent to a death sentence.

To the surprise of everyone, he was almost immediately exchanged. His long deserved commission of ass’t surgeon, came to him soon after, and when he resigned to accept a desirable professional alliance in Detroit, in April, 1864, the regiment lost one of its most efficient and highly respected officers.

Dear Dr. Palmer, who only a month ago covered with professional honors, went over to be mustered into that growing army of veterans in the silent land, was so elated with his success in this first march, that he confidently assured me as we lay in bivouac that evening, that he felt within him those martial qualities which would give him command of troops in case he should determine to substitute the sword for the lancet.

That night the stars were out, and the uncertain moon was low in the western horizon, the darkest hour just before the dawn was on us, when the nervous strain of the pickets post could hardly be expected to resist the extreme tension of the first night out. The imagination turned some unoffending object into the stealthily approaching foe, and the musketry began to rattle with a liveliness that seemed very like active work. I shall never forget how long it seemed to take to lace up those balmoral shoes, to don my uniform, and get the horse unpicketed and saddled, so as to be able either to pursue or fly as might seem most sensible. The next night I slept with my shoes and hat on, and with old Dan tied to the wheel of the ambulance.

It was about this period of the march that the star of the regimental Quartermaster began to wane. It was all about some honey. Mrs. Richardson had gone up to the command of the brigade at the same time that the Colonel had, and a hive of honey had been added to the headquarters stores. Most of us had had some of it, but it had been expected to last like the widow’s cruise of oil through the campaign. It was observed that the Quartermaster had some honey after it had suddenly disappeared at headquarters. Nothing that he had failed to do hitherto was equal to this new offence. The next day the men began to get out of rations and the wagons were slow in getting up. The Quartermaster was found late at night asleep in the train. Dr. Palmer again drew his sword and pricked around with it into a wagon in the dark, and roused him. He fled before the wrath of the command and never stopped until he had reached Battle Creek, Mich.; and McCreery reigned in his stead.

On the 18th of July we were halted about half a mile beyond Centreville, having a nooning, when the enemy were reported a mile and a half in front of us at Blackburn’s ford. We fell in at once, and marched forward through some intervening woods, formed in line behind Lieut. Ayres’ regular battery, which opened upon the woods across Bull Run to the west of us about a quarter of a mile. We soon drew the fire of a rebel battery, which turned out to be the Washington Light Artillery from New Orleans. The first shot fired at the army, afterwards known as the Army of the Potomac, was at this time, and it took the leg off of a sergeant of artillery in Ayres’ battery on our front, and knocked a log out of a house in the yard of which the battery was stationed. The effect of this shot was not observed by the enemy, and the range was altered, and the other shots were not so effective.

It fell to my lot to attend the first Michigan soldier wounded by the enemy in the war. We were moving down as a support to the 1st Massachusetts and 12th New York, who had been sent down to the ford to “feel the enemy,” which they succeeded in doing to the extent of losing 40 wounded and 12 killed. The bullets and solid shots were passing over us, when a rifle bullet struck Mathias Wollenweber of company A, 2d Mich. infantry, in the left side, and he fell upon the sod. I tried to probe the wound with my little finger, and held my horse with the bridle rein thrown over my left arm. Every time a shot passed over us, old Dan would toss up his head and pull my finger out of the wound, and I concluded that while like Mercutio’s wound, “it was not as deep as a well, or as wide as a church door, it was enough;” and so it proved, for it finally “let out his sweet life” twenty years afterwards. Vickery came over with a four wheeled ambulance and picked him up and carried him back to Centreville, where he was afterwards captured by the enemy.

Vickery was a tall, raw-boned Irishman from county Cork, who followed Surgeon Palmer from the University of Michigan, to look after the regimental hospital. He was clever, well educated, with plenty of wit and a large heart. The Second loved Vickery more, I believe, than they ever did anyone else, and with good reason too. He rose to be assistant surgeon Aug. 8, 1862, and surgeon Sept. 1st, 1854. He jumped up upon the earthwork at Petersburg, June 29th, 1864, to see the colored troops charge at the Burnside mine explosion, when a bullet cut one of the femoral arteries. Surgeon Hamilton E. Smith, of the 27th Michigan was beside him at this time, and performed the most valuable service of his life in checking the hemorrhage, as these wounds are usually fatal on the field. Vickery is now a surgeon in the regular army, and is in charge of the army and navy hospital at Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Colonel Richardson shortly after came over from the front, and in a scornful sort of manner, suggested to the regiment, that we had better be getting back or the enemy’s cavalry would cut us off. Upon this we moved back into the woods. Loss in the 3d Brigade, 19 killed; 38 wounded; 26 missing. Rebel loss, 15 killed; 53 wounded. It was upon this occasion that Major Williams, after having moved the regiment well into the woods, formed them into a hollow square to resist an expected charge of cavalry. How well I can remember the beautiful appearance the regiment presented in the timber, with fixed bayonets. In the movement I was left on the outside, and tried in vain, to get into the place where the Adjutant and Major seemed so safely protected. Colonel Richardson’s remarks to the Major, when he discovered our position, and proceeded to unravel us, were not of a character to be repeated, even at this late date.

It was on our way in from the place where Wollenweber had been wounded, and at the edge of the woods, that I found one of our lieutenants lying at the foot of a large oak tree, quite white and limp. He had been in the Mexican war and we regarded him as an experienced soldier. I stopped an army wagon and tried to load him in, supposing he had been taken seriously ill. Colonel Richardson, who seemed to be ubiquitous, ordered him out, and spoke very harshly to him, and took quite an unprofessional view of the case. After the Colonel had gone on, I ordered the Lieutenant loaded in again, and as the last order is usually the one obeyed, we carried him back in safety. He disappeared like the Quartermaster, and we never saw either of them any more.

The Colonel had not gotten quite as much work out of the 1st Massachusetts and 12th New York, as he had expected, and he reared around a good deal during the next two or three days.

For two or three nights before the memorable Sunday, July 21, 1861, picket firing had been very constant, and the details from the regiment had pretty generally tired off their pieces a good many times. The grand rounds at night by the officer of the day was considered little less than fatal. He usually proceeded with a sergeant on each side as flankers, all with pistols at full cock. After having made the circuit of the pickets, this officer lay down to sleep with his flankers on either side, in order to prevent so important an official from being captured.

We held our position between Blackburn’s ford and Centreville along the line of the Bull Run during the battle on Sunday, the 21st. It was quite a commanding position, and we could look off to the north and west, and get some idea of the plan of the battle

We came near being the centre of the fight ourselves. It seems, that Beauregard intended to deliver battle on our left, and cut through to Centreville and get in the rear of McDowell, but the aide de camp who was sent with the final order, stopped to get a drink at a spring. The farmer, upon whose land the spring was located, being an ardent rebel, would not permit him to go on his way with only this cold cheer, but insisted upon pledging him in a glass of peach brandy. The excitement was so great, and the importance of the occasion so supreme, that the aide took several drinks of this apparently harmless beverage. Upon remounting and galloping off he accidentally struck his head against a tree, and became insensible, so the order was never received by Ewell, the general in command on the Rebel right. In the meantime, General Hunter’s column was pressing the enemy’s left so hard that they were forced into a defensive battle.

During all this day, we, at Blackburn’s ford, heard the heavy firing beyond the stone bridge, and hoped that the Union forces were winning a great victory, and that we should be in Richmond within five days. It might have dampened our ardor somewhat had we known that nearly four years of hardship were to intervene before we should realize the fulfillment of that “hope deferred.”

During the afternoon, about 4 P. M., Colonel Davis, of the 2d brigade of Colonel Miles’ division, made a very creditable defense of our left. Colonel Richardson’s brigade, the 4th of Tyler’s division, was making a demonstration at Blackburn’s ford by throwing out heavy skirmishers, as if to cross over. Colonel Jones was ordered by General Johnson to cross and attack our left, in order to prevent the division from joining in the battle on the Warrenton pike, which was at that time very hotly contested. Colonel Jones crossed at McLean’s ford, with three regiments and formed in line intending to flank Captain Hunt’s field battery of four guns. Colonel Davis, noting this movement, changed his front unobserved and waited for the attack. When Jones’ brigade came within five hundred yards Captain Hunt opened upon his line with cannister, and Jones’ Brigade simply disappeared.

As Colonel Nicolay says, in his “Outbreak of the Rebellion,” Jones modestly reported a loss of 14 killed and 62 wounded. The loss in Davis’ brigade was trifling. What would have been the result of throwing the brigades of Richardson, Davis and Blenker, over the stone bridge not more than a mile distant, to meet the forces of Ewell, Early and Holmes, as they came up from our left to join the battle at the Henry house. Can anyone imagine what would have been the effect upon the long victorious Union troops, who had marched so many miles, and fought so many hours, and charged again and again, by regiments, up the Henry house hill?

I remember to this day, how much solid satisfaction it gave us that evening, when we first began to realize that we were defeated, to hear that General Scott was hurrying up from Alexandria with a 50 pounder seige gun, manned by the marine corps from Fortress Monroe.

The medical men of our brigade and General Miles’ division, were in a large farm house on the left of the Blackburn’s ford pike.

I had just made my first amputation, and was examining the bones of the amputated arm, when Colonel Richardson rode up and reiterated his warning of three days before, that “you had better be getting out of here or the enemy’s cavalry will cut you off.” Complying with this apparently well founded order, and with the aid of Vickery and Cleland, loading up my solitary patient, I was about to mount my horse and move back towards Centreville, when Colonel Richardson asked me if I would be obliging enough to let Mrs. Richardson have my horse, as she could not find hers, and he was about to send her back to Alexandria under the escort of Captain Brethschneider and his two conpanies of flankers. Of course, however much I felt that I needed a horse at that moment, to avoid the charge of black horse cavalry, momentarily expected from the left, I acceded to the Colonel’s request, assuring him that I considered it a privilege to render any service to either the male or female commander of our brigade.

Reasoning that if I was obliged to walk, I had better not stand upon the order of my going, but go at once, I started off at a fair, brisk, shooting gait of some four or five miles an hour, expecting to join the column moving back on the Blackburn ford pike to Centreville. I had not proceeded more than a hundred yards, when, like Lot’s wife, I looked back, only with more fortunate results, for I spied old Dan eating clover, and Mrs. Richardson mounted upon another horse, and starting off under Captain Brethschneider’s escort. I turned back, mounted old Dan, and rode down to Centreville, and up on to the Rebel earth-works, which overhung Fairfax pike.

It is not often in a lifetime that one is permitted to see such a sight as I then witnessed. A retreating, uniformed, unorganized, unarmed crowd, poured down towards Washington at a steady unhalting pace. The men who had borne the burden and heat of the day, the camp followers, the friends of the several regiments who had come along to see the victory. Every now and then a wounded officer or soldier, assisted by his comrades, went by. Here appeared a couple of Zouaves riding on an artillery horse, with the broad, flat harness on, as it had been cut out of the traces. I remember seeing a Zouave officer walking along, slightly wounded, and hearing him say to those with him, that he would go no further, here he would stand and fight to the last, and just then a gun from one of our field pieces was fired off in an unmeaning manner, over into Virginia from near Centreville. The sound of that gun sent all his military resolutions to the winds, and he passed along with the steady current of the retreat. On looking down into the lunette, I saw a number of open carriages, and standing up in one of them was Zach Chandler, looking off towards Bull Run (for Centreville was on a hill,) into the red dust which formed the horizon toward the battlefield. This must have been near nine o’clock in the evening, at that season of the year about the time that the growing twilight takes the place of daylight. I had sent on the regimental ambulance, and rode back to the 3rd brigade, which lay with Tyler’s and Davis’s brigades, to the south and south-west of Centreville, in line of battle, waiting for the long expected attack of Beauregard.

It was a relief to see the quiet composure of these troops after having witnessed the confusion of the retreating mass surging towards Washington.  After the darkness fell, these three brigades covered the retreat. Richardson’s last.

Col. Miles had been suspended by McDowell on account of drunkenness and inefficiency, Colonel Richardson having complained to McDowell that he had been constantly interfered with by Col. Miles, commanding the 5th division; that Miles was drunk and incapacitated for duty, and it was by his orders Richardson had been withdrawn from holding Blackburn’s ford.

It was here that Richardson lost his sword, and his wife’s horse and side-saddle. The sword he had left standing against a tree, and forgetting it there when he moved on. He borrowed mine, greatly to my relief. It was a heavy cavalry sabre which had been issued to me by the State—for ornamental purposes, I presume—and was a counterpart of the one lost by the Colonel. He applied for permission to send a flag of truce, hoping to have the horse and side-saddle returned, but was refused by General Tyler, very curtly. Richardson had known General Bee, and he told me he knew that if Bee was able to do so, he knew he would send them back. Poor Bee had hummed his last note, and was no longer a worker in the hive of the Confederacy. He had been killed in the hot work on the Sudley road, on the 21st.

The 3rd Michigan of our brigade, had about the same experience that the 2d had in this campaign; and to the 1st Michigan belong any laurels won by hard fighting. This regiment made four charges at the Henry house hill in the hottest of the battle, and lost 6 killed, 37 wounded, and 52 taken prisoner. Here it was that General Wilcox was severely wounded, and that Captain W. H. Withington was captured.

We believed that a stand would be made at Fairfax Court House, and no one in our division imagined we would go further back. As I rode into Fairfax Court House that night, a rather warm-looking individual in a rumpled linen duster, and with a straw hat well pushed back on his head, rushed down into the road, and seizing me by the hand, fervently exclaimed, “Thank God! Govenor, you are safe.” I said, I was, just as thankful as he appeared to be, and appreciated it quite as much as if I was a govenor, as it did not make much difference, so long as you were safe, what your rank was. It seemed he had mistaken me for Govenor Sprague of Rhode Island. I did feel flattered for the moment.

At this place I saw an anxious looking elderly man leaning over a gate, who asked me whether the army would make a stand here. His youngest son was in the house, mortally wounded; in the retreat a black horse cavalryman had ordered him to surrender and upon his refusing had shot him, the ball passing through the spine. The father had followed his son in to the tield. He was from Ohio. His name was McCook, and he was the father of those gallant sons, afterwards known as the “fighting McCooks.” His son died that night. McCook found out the name of the rebel cavalryman, who came from Warrenton, Virginia, and hunted for him in and about Washington and Alexandria for a long time; coming on his hot trail several times. By a strange coincidence, two or three of the McCook brothers were killed upon different anniversaries of this same day. I remember one, a general officer, was killed by guerillas, who took him out of an ambulance in Tennessee. And this old gentleman himself was shot by Gen’l Morgan’s men, in the raid through Ohio.

We did not halt at Fairfax Court House, but kept right on to the Long bridge at Washington, by way of Munson’s hill and Arlington. In this battle of Bull Run the Union army lost 481 killed, 1011 wounded, and 1460 missing. The Rebel loss was 269 killed, 1483 wounded, no missing mentioned.

It was in many respects a grand battle, and was well conceived and well fought on both sides. And there were as valorous deeds and as good work done on this open field by the raw toops, as were done in any battle of the war. The mistakes were chiefly tactical, and could hardly have been separated from the conditions which at that time existed; who knows what might have been the result had the battle been set 24 hours sooner, or before General Joe Johnston had added his 8,884 men and 22 guns, to Beauregard’s army. As it was, this army from the valley of the Shenandoah, which did most of the fighting on the Rebel side, and the arrival of its last brigade on the flank and rear of the Union lines decided the contest. Military critics are agreed that in many points. Bull Run, was a battle which the more it is studied the more it will redound to the military credit of both sides engaged in it. While the troops were not handled with the same firmness as Grant, Sherman, or Sheridan would have shown later, the material was there in as good quality as when its commanders of regiments and brigades, such as Richardson, Keyes, Sherman, Porter, Burnside, Hunter, Heintzleman, Ricketts, Franklin, Griffin, Wilcox and Howard, later rose to the command of Divisions, Corps and Armies.

This campaign occurred in what might be designated as the “romantic period” of the war. Who that was in field and camp in the summer of ’61, does not realize the truthfulness of this distinction as compared with the sledge-hammer work under that modern Charles Martel, General Grant, in’64 and’65?

We were all young then—and the imagination was more active, the ambitions were greater, the pleasures and disappointments keener. Every man carried a baton in his knapsack, and Hope, the enchantress, was clad in the most roseate hues. Who can look back after these long years, when all of us have drunk the cup of experience, and have in too many instances found it far different from the nectar of our youth, and not sympathize with the thrill and enthusiasm of those earlier days of the war ?

The soldier of ’61 was full of life and patriotism, his ardor undampened by the stern discipline and reverses of the war. The soldier of ’65 was inured to hardship and adversity, and hoped less, but fought and accomplished more. The period of romance had changed to a period of system and endurance. Individuality had given place to mechanical action, and what was lost in enthusiasm and animation, was made up in concert of action and confidence in method. The military machine ran more smoothly and with less friction, and inspired greater confidence. The history of these four years of war has its counterpart in our own lives. In our youth, we acted upon impulse regardless of consequences, now we think before we act: “then we saw through a glass darkly, but now we see face to face; then we knew in part, but now we know even as we are known.”

Life is easier at fifty than it was at twenty, but as a rule it is not more delightful; and so it was with the war. In ’61 it was pic-nic, and a theatre ; in ’64, and ’65 it was a business, and a circus.

The story of the Bull Run campaign which I can recall is no fable, nor is it the vain imaginings of a cavalryman, it is the veritable truth. That campaign had every adornment of high coloring, it was gotten up regardless of expense, and the music and scenic effects were magnificent. It needed the brilliant tinting of a Turner to paint it true to life, and the pen of a Mark Twain to record its vitality and expression. With its unhappy termination, went out forever the effervescence and impulsiveness of the service in the war. And with the disappearance of the baggy red breeches and the havalocks, and the pell-mell marching, came in the forty rounds in the cartridge box, the three days rations in the haversack, and the sharper lines of rout and battle.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine