Pvt. John Marshall Hamlet, Co. H, 18th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

18 12 2020

Centreville, Fairfax county, Va.
July 24, 1861

I should have written to you sooner & I fear that my delay has caused you some anxiety, but this is the first opportunity I have had for a week. I am well except a sore throat and slight cough. We have had a great deal of rain within the last few days and have been very much exposed as our tents and baggage have been at Manassas since our retreat from Fairfax Court House which you have no doubt heard of.

I will now give you some account of the battles here. Our pickets were driven in about 7 o’clock A. M. on the 17th inst. (we were then at Fairfax Court House). The pickets were within two miles of the enemy’s camp and came near being surrounded by their skirmishers before they came in. We were ordered out on the field and forming in line of battle, but as soon as the enemy came in sight, we were marched off in this direction (none of us knowing that a retreat was intended). One regiment remained of South Carolinians long enough to fire one round & [then] retreated.

The enemy’s advance forces came to Centreville that night and came to Mitchell’s Ford (across Bull Run) early the next morning [18 July] and cannonaded the fortifications there until finding that they could not get over that way, they made an effort to storm the works. The infantry behind the works held their fire until they came very near when they fired & leaped over the works & charged upon them with the bayonet and repulsed them so completely that they gave up the idea of crossing there. The fight lasted four of five hours.

Our regiment was at a ford about four miles above Mitchell’s so we were not engaged in the battle. It is stated that between 900 and 1,000 of the enemy were left dead upon the field. Our loss in killed was very small—not over 20. I suppose though about 40 or 50 [were] wounded.

The Battle on Sunday the 21st was about two miles above us & extended over several miles & lasted between eight and ten hours. Our regiment was marched to the field about 2 o’clock P. M. We marched about one mile over the field where they had been fighting. It was a horrid sight—strewn with the killed and wounded. When we got within 4 or 5 hundred yards of the enemy, we were much exposed to their fire. One South Carolina regiment had taken their battery and they had retaken it. The South Carolinians again drove them from it and they were rallying to get it again when our regiment came in sight. We were ordered to charge upon it which we did & fired a volley upon them when they retreated rapidly. We fired three rounds, then turned their battery upon them so they ran. We had one man killed and three or four wounded, one of whom is mortally wounded.

Our Capt. was wounded by a bomb shell & has returned home. Our regiment lost only five killed and about twenty wounded. Some two or three Southern regiments were badly cut to pieces. Ellsworth’s Zouaves from New York were nearly all killed though they fought desperately. In their retreat, they threw away their guns, knapsacks, and took to the woods. Radford’s Cavalry & Kemper’s Battery pursued them to Fairfax Court House and took an immense number of horses, wagons, ambulances, and a large number of cannon. I do not know how many cannon were taken as there are so many reports about it, but I heard repeatedly today that there were 82 pieces.

Our loss is said to be 1500 in killed and wounded. That of the enemy’s is said to be triple that number at least. No doubt the papers will give more reliable accounts of the loss than I can. The Yankee’s will certainly fight although they are said to be so cowardly. A large number of prisoners were also taken. Since the fight, our forces have been advanced towards Alexandria rapidly. We are now at Centreville and expect to leave tomorrow…. Write soon. Direct to Manassas Junction as our mail is sent to us from there.

Yours affectionately, — J. M. Hamlet

Contributed and transcribed by William Griffing.

See post at Spared & Shared, including other letters of James and his brother, John

James Marshall Hamlet at Ancestry

James Marshall Hamlet at Fold3

James Marshall Hamlet at Myheritage





Image: Pvt. William J. Hubbard, 18th Virginia Infantry

24 10 2020

Hubbard-Wm

Pvt. William J, Hubbard, Co. H, 18th VA Infantry (Post-war image courtesy of Appomattox Court House National Historic Park)





Pvt. William J. Hubbard, Co. H, 18th Virginia Infantry, Before, During, and After the Battle (3 Letters)

20 10 2020

Fairfax Ct. House July 11th [or 14th] 1861

Dear Tom,

I have a chance to send you a letter by Mr. Brow, and tell you how I am getting along here. I wrote to you the last of June while we were at Centerville and again on 4 of July while at Georgetown and have not received no answer. I was afraid my letters was not sent to you. I have been sick four times since I left home by cooking and was washing too much. I have at present a very bad cold with a slite [slight] headache and have a very sore lip that seems to be a blood bile. We have a wet time of it at present, and our tents is so damp that a sick Man can’t improve at present much. We had an alarm last week and our regiment was out with less excitement than before, but it was all nothing, some of the boys said the Picket shot at a lightening bug for the enemy, they say that they saw a man strike a match and so the tale goes. Our Pickets hear the drum and fife of the enemy frequently indeed that Wally Wootson [William Woodson Co. H*] was and I was really surprised [surprised] to hear it[.] I little thought when we went to gather [together] to the degarian room to have our likeness taken that he would soon be done with earth. I know it goes hard with the old folks our people begin to feel the scourge of war, though we are in the right. I had my likeness taken for Sue, and gave it to G.H. Gilliam to send it to you the first opportunity, write me word if you have received it yet.

I received a letter from [unknown name] dated the 2 and it was a treat indeed to hear from home. She inquired about our flys whether we received them or not they all came safe to hand.

Sunday night it was raining again and we will be made sick, if the wet weather continues, we have 80 men out every night standing guard and taking the weather with out any shelter and they come in of mornings complaining they were nerly [nearly] Frozen.

We have Preaching twice on sunday [Sunday] in good weather and in the week. Dr. Dabny reads a portion of scripture [Scriptures] and comments on it some four times a week. It dose [does] me good to hear songs of zion, and hear the earnest prayer on our behalf.

Tom you see from the position we occupy we stand a chance to have a brush with the enemy at any time. The citizens of Fairfax have been moving off and I see furniture passing every day for the last 4 or 5 days. Fairfax is a place about as large as Pr. E. C. House with regular streets and some nice private residences. This is a grass and wheat country and quite level. The timber is the same as ours with a good deal of undergrowth and makes it impossible for our army to march through it. We have to guard the roads and wach [watch] the open fields.

We can by [buy] mutton and eggs[,] chickens and butter most every time we need it We have orders to keep 3 days provisions cooked on hand, and to be ready to march at a moments warning we know not where.

I wish you all could come and see what a soldier was to go through in camp, I told our boys if we were spared to reach home again we could camp out to show the ladies how the soldiers cooked and how they fiked [fixed] their beds, it would amuse you to see them fixing after they have arrived at a new place you see them striking every piece of plank they can lay hands on, some rakeing [raking] up leaves like an old sow. Some round a tree that has been cut down like you have seen cows in spring pulling of the bows to keep them off the ground and make their beds soft such is a soldiers[‘] life. As the drum will tap for lites [lights] to be put out soon I must my letter to a close. If you have a chance to send, let me have some more of the McLanes Pills and Jamaca [Jamaica] ginger. Write me the news, give my love to I.P.G and Winston and Mr. Matthews and Sady [Sadie?] Misses Fanny Evelin and Betty and tell them I will never forget the pleasant hours we spent together. I have not heard from Ned Gilliam for a long time write me how he is getting along. I been sorry I did not stay home when I was their until [until] I got well. I am afraid it will be some time before I am prepared to stand guard with safty [safety], but if we are called out to night I will shoulder my musket and do the best I can, the drum has taped for lites [lights] to be put out.

So Tom

PS I hope none of the Family will think of [illegible word] by themselves slighted because I do not call them by name. I write to all in the same letter and wish all to read.

Wm. H.

*William J. Woodson, a 22-year-old farmer that enlisted at Pamplin Depot, died July 8, 1861, of typhoid fever.

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Centerville Fairfax July 26th

Dear Family,

I know you all have been looking for a letter from me, since our retreat from Fairfax. [O]our Regiment has been staying in the woods as a Picket[s] guarding a ford on Bullrun [Bull Run], without anything except a few blankets and our clothes, and there we stayed untill [until] Sunday evening, when we marched off to the field of Battle, we had a trying time of it, as soon as we left the low grounds and got on the hill where the enemy could see us they let fly the Bunbs [bombs] at us, they came hissing through the air, and fall and explode all around us tareing [tearing] up the ground like a thunder bolt, I tell you all we tried to be quite small, we soon reached to the top of the hill where we could hear the fireing [firing] as plain as if it was only a few hundred yards off, as soon as we reached that point the cannon balls and shell came thick and fast making the trees and ground crack again, I tell you I did not feel as comfortable as I would like to be behind a brest work [breastworks], we march on to the field of battle expecting every moment to be our last, and such a field I hope not to march through again the pruse [spruce] pine was so thick that you could not see a man ten steps, and we had to press throug[h] it several hundred yards before we could reach the field of battle as soon as we reach the opening we form in line of battle, and we were scarcely form[ed] when [Andrew] Leach was shot by my side and fell dead without a groan and the next moment Billy Grey [Gray] was struck by a ball on the neck which only bruised a little, and [Robert P.] Meadows was struck on the nose, which blined [blinded] him for a while and gave him a very sore nose

I tell you it was raining bullets jus[t] about that time we dropped on the ground until [until] the shower was over and as soon as it slacken we marche[d] to the top of the hill where we saw the enemy in full view, as soon as they saw us they sent another storm of lead at us, we fell on the ground the secon[d] time, as soon as the fire slacken we charged on the battery just as they were ready to send reinforcements to it, as soon as they saw it in our possession they gave up for good we let them have a few rounds and they retreated out of the way, soon we saw several Regiments comeing [coming] on the wright [right] of the enemy and fired in to them and soon they were all retreating, to our joy. Some of the boys proposed to wheel the cannon [a]round and give them a fire from their own guns. No sooner said the boys seized her and pulled her around, loaded and fired, and made an opening in their ranks. I tell you there was no order in retreating after that before they could load and fire again our Regiment was ordered to the stone Bridge where we expected some of them would try to cross under the fire of their guns over the river. We marched below the bridge in the bend of the river where we could rake them if they had crossed but they had higher up on a bridge they had made. We crossed the river with the expectation of pursuing them but Col. Withers had orders to wait for the rest of the brigade did not come up we halted to rest our selves [ourselves] on the grass and here Sergeant [Thomas H. B.] Durfrey [Durphy] got shot while sitting on the ground. We had not been long here before we were ordered to Manassas, as they heard that an attack would be made Sunday night but the defeat at stone Bridge broke it up. If we had pursued them with our forces we could have taken nearly all the army. We got a march?? about 9 o’clock at night and march 5 miles near Manassas and took a nap upon the cold ground with the blue heavens for our covering. We were wakeed [woke]up the next morning by the rain gently falling in our faces though with grateful hearts for the protection we had received on the battle field the day before. I can say without doubt, the Lord mighty in battle fout [fought] for us, and glory and praise be to his name for his goodness unto us. We march Monday through the rain wet as rats near the battle field and halted for the night. And the rain pouring down next morning I went to battle field to bury poor Leach hoo [who] had been overlooked on Monday, such a sight I never wish to see again[.] The enemy was lying over a field nearly a mile long in every direction with different uniforms it was sickening to behold. The mangled bodies as they lay on the field. The enemy was so frightened they never returned to bury their dead. Tuesday evening we came to this place, and we know not where next we go. As we came along the road[,] the road was srowed [strewed] provisions & every thing a soldier needs. I never expected to see such destruction. They throwed down their guns sourds [swords], shoes, hats, pants, socks that they might get along the faster. I found three guns two cartridge boxes pr [pair] of boots canten [canteen] and a pair of red pants. I am equipped with Yankee fixins now. I have seen several hundred prisoners. Col Withers has now a Col Wood in his tent that was wounded in the fight in the hip and will get well soon. Two of his men stuck to him. One was sent to the junction the other is here with the Col to wait on him. They looked like criminals when they were first brought in, when they were first taken. I understand that they pled for their life, but they now look quite cheerful. They are treated as the rest of us, the young man that waits on the Col is as lively as any of our boys and is fond of jokes. He says we are quite a different people from what he expected to see. He seems to be contented.

I heard an exhortation from H.B. Coles last night which the regiment was pleased with.

We as a regiment here are enjoying good health, though many has left sick sinc[e] we left Richmond. I have not been sick since the day before we retreated from Fairfax. I expect you all have herd more news about the battles then I have as I rarely se[e] a paper[.] Let me hear from you all soon. As Manassas is headquarters direct every thing [everything] to that place we get our provisions from there. Give my love to all my friends and pray for us while we are exposed to the perils of warfare. I am getting hungry and must go to cooking so Dear Friends good by for the present.

Tom I received yours and Sues letters the morning after the battle. It was a real treat. I received the nice little flag.

Yours,

W.J. Hubbard

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Camp Centerville Aug.11th 1861

Dear Family,

I take this opportunity of dropping you all a few lines. I have spent the Sabbath so fare [far] something like home. Dr. Dabney gave us a sermon this morning on swaring [swearing]. I thought it came in good time. It was the best on the subject I ever heard. It would astonish you if you were here at the wickedness of our men. They will swear on the field of battle where bumbs [bombs] and shot are flying around them. We have meeting every night when the weather is fair, and the Dr. is well.

Mr. Granberry was in camp this week to see us[,] he looks more like a soldier than a preacher, he is chaplain in a Regiment mad[e] up partly from Albemarl[e].

It has been quite a quiet time since the fight, and we feel as unconcern[ed], as if peace was about to be made. There will be a calm after a storm.

We drill in the morning and then have Dress Parade in the evening; our company is quite small and the Col. is complaining because so many is absent, he says he will deal with them as diserters [deserters] if they don’t return soon.

We have rain in the abundance, the ground has been too wet for camp life, and it has given our boys colds

I have been well ever since our retreat from Fairfax though exposed a gooddeal [good deal], I was glad to see Sam and Brown once more, and hear from home, they have been complaining ever since they been here, Sam was quite sick last night, but better to day [today], Billy Gilliam is complaining of the r[h]umatism a little, he got very wet in the coming here from Manassas. Julius Fore is been complaining for several days and I would not be surprised if he haves a spell of sickness.

I have received four letters since the battle and a great treat it was to hear from home once more, I can’t read a letter from home without sheding [shedding] tears.

I do hope the yankies [yankees] have their fill of us, and will make peace, and let us return to our homes, once more I met with Mr. Leach last Friday to the Battlefield to see the grave of his Brother, he is now on his way to Pamplins. There was quite a change since I were there last, the Yankies [Yankees] had a little dirt thrown on their boddies [bodies] jus[t] where they ly [lie], and by fall their bones will be s[t]rewed over the field, with the frames of the horses that was killed in battle

I would like to see som[e] one from the nieghborhood in our camp, I believe all the companys have been visited by some one [someone] from their neighborhoods since the fight, I would be glad to see you Tom, or Par [Pa] here and let you see a little of camp life, and try it a week or too [two] for yourselves.

We hear but little news that is true, you all can tell more about the fight than I can, because you have read all the points.

In this neighborhood there is I reccon [reckon] 100 wounded prisoners and most of them will get well, they say they will not, take up arms against us no more, they have been fooled by their officers they say, they only took up arms to protect Washington. We have re[a]d a great many letters that droped [dropped] in their retreat, I saw one written to a young lady in Main[e] stateing [stating]that Scott was with them at Bullrun [Bull Run] and he was a fine looking man, and he was in good spirits and would press the war on with vigor. We have no hint where we will go next. I would not be surpprised [surprised] if we were sent to Fairfax again

It is a b[ea]utiful sight to get on some high hill and look on our encampments in all directions, having the appearance of little towns, and at night like a citty [city] lit up with gass [gas].

The boys who lost their [k]napsacks have been in a bad fix, they have but one such and that is on their backs, some have divided with them, I thought all my clothes were gone for good but one of the boys saw my knapsack at Mannassas [Manassas] and brought it to me, I tell you I was glad to see it. I only lost my big blanket.

I wrote last week giving our movements in the fight I reckon you all have red [read] it before this time I want a pa[i]r of everyday yarn pants sent to me the last of this month so I may save my uniform pants. We have not received any pay yet, when I get it I would like for you to get it Tom, as I have a plenty for the present. I have received the medicine all in good order and they have been doing us good already

Tell Isham to write me soon,

Since you ask me what has become of my letter paper this is all I have seen I reckon this is the paper they sent Monday morning it is a beautiful morning, Col. W said dress on perraid [parade] yesterday evening, that he would arrest those who had staid [stayed] over there time and those who had gone without permition [permission]. good bye [Good bye]. One of your members

Wm. J. H.

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Letters contributed by reader Tim Smith of Joliet, Il. and Patrick Shroeder of Lynchburg, VA, and the National Park Service (with permission of NPS). Transcribed by NPS Volunteer Mike Hudson, [edits] by Patrick Schroeder, Appomattox National Historic Site.

William Hubbard is portrayed by living historians at Appomattox Court House National Historic Site

William J. Hubbard at Ancestry

William J. Hubbard at Fold3

William J. Hubbard at FindAGrave





S. D. S., Co. K, 18th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

9 09 2020

Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.
The Charlotte Rifles.

Charlotte C. H., Va., Aug.2d.

With your permission, I avail myself of the opportunity to return my grateful and heartfelt thanks to the kind ladies of Orange and Culpeper Court-House, who met me with many other poor wounded soldiers on the cars, with blackberry wines, warm teas and many other delicacies too numerous to mention, (but all calculated to soothe and refresh a worn out soldier,) while on our way from the battle ground of Manassas. Crowds of ladies assembled at the depots of the above mentioned places to await the arrival of the train which was to convey us from the scene of action, bringing with them kind words of comfort which almost made me thankful that I received the wound.

May God bless them – that God who so graciously protected us in our time of danger and turned aside the missiles of death hurled against us by the hands of the brutal, but cowardly foe. When I first commenced my journey I thought that I was far from friends and home, but I was greatly mistaken, for a wounded soldier will always find relief and comfort whenever and wherever he may meet with the ladies of the Old Dominion.

I received my wound in the early part of the engagement whilst attempting to shoot a cowardly Yankee, who was dodging behind a bush; the ball passed through the calf of my left leg, and was cut out behind. I was carried under a large tree to have the ball cut out, and whilst there a cannon ball shattered the top of the tree into a thousand pieces, without injuring me in the least. One of my company, James A. Thomas, was shot dead at my side by a Yankee, who pretended to be in the agonies of death. Our gallant Major George Cabell, seeing the deception practiced upon poor Thomas, (than whom a braver and better man never lived,) drew his revolver and sent the Yankee scoundrel to his last account.

Our regiment (the Eighteenth) was soon ordered to charge upon a portion of Sherman’s Battery, which they did with the greatest coolness and bravery, having taken it with the loss of but few men. The company to which I belonged, (the Charlotte Rifles, Capt. T. J. Spencer,) I am happy to say, acted with great coolness and bravery throughout the whole engagement. Our noble Captain is as brave and good a man as ever lived, rallying his men throughout the whole battle. First Lieutenant Matthew Lyle, of the Charlotte Rifles, distinguished himself by killing six of the scamps wand taking several prisoners. Among them was Capt. Jack Downey, of the New York Zouaves, who, with the true spirit of a Yankee after he was captured, threw up his hands and cried for mercy, when he was told he should not be harmed. A Minnie musket, a brace of pistols, and a sword, with his name on it, were taken from him. If ever a man deserved promotion, Lieut. L. does.

S. D. S., a Member of the Charlotte Rifles.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/5/1861

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“H*****,” Co. K, 18th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

19 07 2020

The Charlotte Rifles.

To the Editors of the Richmond Dispatch: – As an answer to the various inquiries of our numerous relatives and friends in Charlotte, concerning the part Capt. T. J. Spencer’s Rifle Company took in the recent engagement upon Bull Run, I propose as briefly as possible to give the desired information through the medium of your interesting columns. Some have erroneously supposed that we were at Mitchel’s Ford on Thursday, the 18th. We were not in any action until Sunday, the 21st. Early in the morning of that memorable day, we were stationed upon the road leading to Lewis’ Ford, which we had been guarding with a sleepless vigilance for several days. While standing here with the other companies of our regiment, arranged around at various points for the defence of the ford, our Captain took the first prisoner taken that day – He was a spy belonging to an Ohio regiment. He had unconsciously straggled into the lines of our men. When it became evident that the enemy did not design to cross the ford in that direction, we were deployed as skirmishers to prevent them from planting a battery in an open field upon and elevated point that commanded a full view of the opposite side of the stream – Here we remained for 3 or 4 hours, listening to the heavy thunderings of the artillery, the incessant roar of the musketry, and awful cries of the wounded – intermingled alternatively with the hearty cheers of the enemy and the vociferous applause of our soldiery as the tide of the battle would change from one side to the other. Having been withdrawn from our position and drawn up in battle array on the opposite side of the stream, we received orders to go forward to battle. In our advance we were exposed to the enemy’s shell and ball for more than a mile before we entered the battle-field. We advanced under the most discouraging circumstances. We met remnants of other regiments in retreat, saying that their companies had been cut to pieces and that the day was well-nigh lost. The wounded also were brought out in full view of our line. – The first appalling sight that met our vision was a wounded soldier with his left arm and a part of his left side entirely torn off rom his body. Wounds of various kinds presented themselves to our view. Strange to say, the only encouragement we received was from some poor wounded soldiers, who as they were being carried off the field waved their hands toward the scene of conflict. After marching through a body of thick pines, our company being situated upon the extreme left wing of the regiment, happened to fall suddenly upon a halfscore or more of New York Zouaves. We took a captain and several others as prisoners, and killed all the rest – They had on red pantaloons and a blue fatigue shirt. It was by the bullet of one of those desperadoes that Mr. Jas. Thomas, a worthy member of our company, lost his life.

Owing to various impediments on our route, our lines were thrown somewhat into confusion; but the regiment was soon arranged again, drawn up in full battle array in full view of the enemy. We were held here as mere spectators, awaiting further orders, and exposed, in the meanwhile, to a continual shower of the enemy’s bullets. When the command was given to advance, the whole regiment went in double-quick time, cheering and firing as they ran; meanwhile the flags of the Southern Confederacy were seen right and left, advancing over every hill. The enemy’s battery had been taken, and it became the province of our regiment to hold it. We met with but little resistance. The Charlotte Rifles, with the aid of Adjutant Hill, of North Carolina, had the honor of turning the famous Sherman’s battery around, and firing it upon the owners. When the Northern vandals perceived that the invincible columns of the Southern Confederacy were coming against them in and irresistible tide, and that their own guns were turned against them, they set their faces towards the land of their birth, resolving as no doubt many of them did, never to set foot again upon Virginian soil.

H*****

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/3/1861

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