Unit History – 1st Maryland Infantry

7 06 2022

Was assembled at Winchester, Virginia, during the early summer of 1861 with about 600 men. It fought in General Elzey’s Brigade, then the Maryland Line, and was active at First Manassas, in Jackson’s Valley Campaign, and the Seven Days’ Battles. On August 11, 1862, the unit disbanded at Gordonsville, Virginia. Its commanders were Colonels Arnold Elzey, Bradley T. Johnson, and George H. Steuart, and Lieutenant Colonel Edward R. Dorsey.

From Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army, pp. 161-162

R., Co. C, 1st Battalion Maryland Infantry, On the Battle

9 02 2022


Richmond, July 27, 1861.

Friend B.: – Your kind favor 27th ult. reached me at Manassas Junction just as we arrived, on our way to the field of action of Sunday last. I managed to read it while “double quicking” to take part in the glorious victory of that day. You have, of course, heard all the particulars in reference to the battle – how completely we routed old Abe’s minions, the vast amount of ammunition, cannon, arms, provisions, wagons, horses, &c., captured, the immense number slain and wounded, besides prisoners taken. Our boys were in the fight, and they did their duty manfully. We went into the battle singing “Gay and Happy.” About the time of our arrival on the field the day was almost lost. The superior force of the Yankees kept them continually provided with fresh troops, while our comparatively small number kept us constantly engaged. Our position was on the extreme left of Johnston’s wing, to repel an attempt being made to turn our left flank. Right nobly did the boys do their duty. We allowed the enemy to approach within about two hundred yards, (meanwhile suffering a severe fire,) when the order was given to fire. So well-directed was it that they staggered; another volley confused them, and a charge settled the business. They threw away everything that impeded their progress, blankets, haversacks, muskets, coats, &c. Our boys captured a great many of them, completely fitting themselves out. The haversacks were most acceptable, being provided with about three days’ provisions. Having had but little to eat for three days, and none at all on that day, we pitched in and had a sumptuous feast. The Colonel of our regiment, Elzey, was highly complimented by Beauregard, being called the “Blucher of the day,” and was also promoted on the field to Brigade General. Our loss, considering the severe fire to which we were exposed, is very small, only one killed in the regiment, with bout ten or fifteen wounded, none fatally. The one killed was from Frederick. We have two wounded in our company, Sergeant John Berryman, being struck by a Minie musket ball. He is in excellent hands, at the residence of Dr. Beall, in this place, and is doing well. The other is private Wm. Codd, formerly of the Eagles. He was struck by a piece of an exploding shell on the thigh, a very slight wound. In Captain Murray’s company no one was injured. One of our Captains captured the “Stars and Stripes.” I should like to hear how the news was received in the Monumental City.

I am now here on furlough. The exposure and hardships to which we have been subjected, aggravating my throat to such an extent that I am suffering intensely, in fact, can scarcely speak at all; will probably, in the opinion of some medical men, have to be discharged from the service. There is one consolation, I have been in one battle, and struck a feeble blow for the freedom of my friends at home. Our regiment have had a hard time of it. Being under Johnston’s command at Winchester, and he having been playing a game of chess with Patterson, caused us to be moved about continually. Johnston completely outwitted Patterson at his own game, to which, in a great measure, is to be attributed our victory of the 21st. In answer to your query as to what drill is used here, will answer; Our company drill the Baltimore City Guard drill, the balance of the regiment Hardee. There is yet no regularly established drill, each company in the army using the drill most suited to their notions. Our drill has been very much admired and praised, especially as the boys do it right. What has become of the fourth company? You don’t mention it. Played out? Give my regards to all the right boys.

Yours, &c.,

The Baltimore (MD) Sun, 8/8/1861

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Unknown, 1st Battalion Maryland Infantry, On Battle Casualties

8 02 2022


A letter from another Maryland volunteer says:

The only one killed in the Maryland regiment was named Switzler, in Cpt. Wm. Goldborough’s company. In Captain Dorsey’s company, Sergeant John B. Berryman was shot through the stomach; the wound, though severe, is not dangerous, and he will get over it. W. D. Codd was struck by a shell in the pit of the stomach; he will soon be ready for duty again. In Captains Murray’s and Herbert’s companies none were injured. Of the rest of the wounded (about ten) I could not learn their names. It is admitted by all that the timely arrival of Elzey’s brigade saved the day, though the enemy could no possibly get past Manassas.

The wounded of the Maryland regiment were conveyed by their friends to Manassas, where they were kindly provided with quarters by Captains Sterret and Chatard, of Baltimore, formerly of the U. S. Navy. These gentlemen have charge of the batteries at the Junction.

The Baltimore (MD) Sun, 8/6/1861

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Unknown, Co. H, 1st Battalion Maryland Infantry, On the Valley, March, and Battle

7 02 2022


We have been furnished by a friend with the following letter from a member of Company D*, Captain Murray, of the First Maryland Regiment, now serving in Virginia:

Fairfax Court-House, July 24th.

To give and extended account of our movements since I wrote you last would fill too much space. I will only give a hasty sketch of them up to the last and most important – the battle of Manassas. We organized our company in Richmond, June 13th, with Murray of course as captain. After staying in camp near Richmond for some time, we left on the 23d, arriving at Winchester the next day. The only event which relieved the monotony of our stay there was our long to be remembered advance to and subsequent retreat from Darkesville, a place six or seven miles from Martinsburg. As soon as we heard that General Patterson had crossed the Potomac we advanced to give him battle at the above place, but after offering battle for three days, which he declined, we retreated back to Winchester. The march back was an extremely severe one. We had had nothing to eat for almost twenty-four hours, and had to march seventeen miles in the broiling sun. We began our retreat with more than seventy men in our company, and arrived at Winchester with only twenty – the rest having dropped behind. The men thought they had endured a great deal at Camp Starvation, as they called Darkesville, but last week we began still more to experience the hardships of a soldier’s life. On Wednesday night we went out on picket duty with two crackers apiece for supper. – While cooking breakfast the next morning, we were ordered to strike our tents and pack up immediately. We did so, and after several hours’ delay, which, however, gave us little opportunity to eat anything, we left Winchester, marched all afternoon and all that night, reaching the Shenandoah in the morning. After one or two hours’ delay, we waded the river, and marching all day, reached the railroad at midnight. There we remained all the next day, cooking, &c., and came by railroad to Manassas, leaving in the middle of the night. We got out of the cars at Manassas at mid-day, hearing the cannons and musketry in the distance. Exhausted, and with nothing to eat, we were marched five or six miles to the battle-field, which we reached just in time to prevent them from outflanking us on our left, and thus, I believe, almost save the day, We marched up to our position in the line with shot and shell falling around us pretty thick, meeting wounded men by the dozen, who, in every instance, told us consolingly that we were soon to be whipped, that is was hot work up there, &c. A large shell exploded within thirty yards of me as we emerged into the field, and almost the next minute I heard a number of shots, apparently all around, and heard bullets whistle past both side of my head. General Smith, John Berryman, and another man in Company A, (Captain Dorsey,) fell wounded. All will recover, however. – This fire came from the New York Zouaves, who were deployed as skirmishers in the woods around us. We marched on through the woods, until just as we were almost out, we were greeted with a fire from an entire regiment posted on a hill in the front. We returned the fire, killing some of them, and they pretty soon retreated, having killed only one of our men, and Irishman in McCoy’s company. We then pursued them, giving one or two volleys, for one or two miles, when the battle being gained and evening approaching, we went back to our quarters. A battle-field after the fight is an awful thing. Once after we had driven them from a pine thicket and had halted on the other side, I went back alone to look for a Minie gun – I found canteens, cartridge-boxes, &c., scattered every where; next I stumbled against a gun-barrel bent almost double, immediately after I heard some one call me, and looking around saw a man lying under a tree almost shot to pieces. He begged me, for God’s sake, as the only favor I could do him, to run him through the heart with my bayonet. I gave him a drink of water and had to pass on. Next I found a man groaning horribly; he had been trying to cut his own throat with a knife and was about to end his agonies; near by were three men lying dead. It was still as death in the thicket, and the scene I shall never forget.

This we gained a complete victory, and although I can say with perfect truth that I, in common (so far as I can ascertain) with others, felt very little of that feeling of nervousness which I expected, still I hope we may not be called on to witness the horrors of another battle-field.

People are very much amused at one thing which we did. As we charged up the hill, expecting each moment to receive the fire of several regiments which we had apparently driven from the immediate summit, we could not be restrained from stooping down and stopping every now and then to eat blackberries. In fact, our men behaved beautifully, only they were too eager to charge and talked too much.

We are very anxious to see what the Baltimore papers will say about our share in the fight, for I assure you we did nothing to show that we have altogether degenerated from our grandsires of the Maryland Line. We intend next time to do much more, however, but I fear it will be purchased at a dearer sacrifice.

The Baltimore (MD) Sun, 8/6/1861

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* Upon organization prior to the battle, Capt. W. H. Murray’s company was designated Co. H. See First Bull Run website.

Unknown Officer, First Maryland Battalion, On the March to Manassas and the Battle

5 08 2012

The Battle of Manassas – Letter From an Officer in the Maryland Brigade to His Wife.

You know when we left Winchester, late the afternoon of Thursday; we marched all that night, and at sunrise the next morning camped for breakfast on the Shenandoah. At eleven our brigade commenced the crossing, and by two got fairly on the march again. After twelve that night we reached Piedmont, when the men got food, only the second meal since leaving Winchester.

Saturday, however, we remained, the railroad dispatching troops with horrid inefficiency. At two A. M. Sunday morning we got on the cars; a train ran off – water gave out – men were called for to shovel water in the trough with spades, and had it not been for Col. Fisher of 6th N. C. I do not know when we should have got off. His energy and experience got us started, and at eleven we reached a point some three miles from Manassas, Gen. E. K. Smith commanding his brigade, and Elzeys our Maryland one as General of Division. Then none of Smith’s men had arrived, and taking command of the Marylanders, who were the first formed, he led off, followed by the Tennessee 3d, Col. Vangham, and Virginia 10th, Col. Gibbons, and a light battery under Lieut. Beckham.

The dust was dreadful, the heat terrific, but unslinging knapsacks we went off at double quick. The Lieut. Col. and Major having been obliged to send their horses by road, were on foot. The boom of heavy artillery gradually extending to our left showed the battle widening there, and an attempted out-flanking us. At the cars we had received a colour presented by the ladies of Baltimore, and fastening that to our old colours, those of the Frederick Volunteers, we had only the flag of Maryland, and her old arms over our heads. As we passed regiment after regiment, cheer after cheer went up for gallant Maryland. Hearing the line of fire which now crashed and rolled and thundered in front; a regiment of cavalry drawn in line showed the preparation for a charge; under a hill a long line of men showed a reserve protecting themselves against the round shot and bullets which whizzed and whistled in a continuous stream over our heads. Then an Aid galloped up – Hill, from N. C. – without a hat, “Forward, Maryland!” was his shout and then a responsive shout showed the spirit of our men. To run for two miles and a half in a terrible heat and dust, by men without sleep the night before and no food since the previous day, told on men and officers. I nearly gave out, and thought it impossible to go a step further, when a halt was had. The men rushed, permission being given, into a mass of mud and water, stirred by thousands of men and horses, and eagerly drank it. General Smith sent to General Beauregard for orders. The answer was, “You must do the best you can. Go where the fire is hottest.” Forward, was the word. On sprang the men. Troops of wounded and dispirited men met us coming slowly back from the field. “Haste,” said they, “we are getting cut to death – they are mowing our men by ranks and companies.” The words infuriated our men. The double-quick became a run, and over fences, through brakes and gullies and briars, they rushed with reckless impetuosity. Just then came up one of my horses. I gave it to Col. Stuart. Soon after a raking volley from our right brought the order from General Smith to “Lie Down,” but it was too late; Company F, and Irish company from Baltimore, had seen the enemy in the woods. Their caps and red breeches showed the Zouaves, and, with a yell, they fired and charged. Gen. Smith fell within ten feet of me, shot through the neck, and four of our men were brought down, but the Zouaves were gone. The long roll of small arms just in front indicated, we thought, a sharp, deadly conflict there, so, charging through a thick wood, we halted just on the other edge. Going up the hill, a splendid horse came up riderless. I caught him and mounted. As we halted – Colonel Elzey then in command, Smith being off the field – was just in the center of our Regiment. The 3d Tennessee on our right, 10th Virginia on our left, and Beckham’s battery on a hill, masked by some light woods. Just then we discovered the enemy in force on top of a high hill, not two hundred and fifty yards from us, flag flying and bayonets glistening in the sun. “Get me a glass, get me a glass,” said the Colonel.

But my eyes were better just then. The wind threw out the Stars and Stripes; the long line of light shivered along their ranks as they bought their guns to a ready preparation to fire. I rode along the line, saying to the men shoot at their knees; and as I got back to the Colonel, her ordered, give it to them, boys; and the Maryland rifles rang out clear and sharp; but high above them – above the roar of battle – above the tempest of whewing, whizzing balls – the cheer of the “Maryland Line” rose full and high. With each volley they cheered. The enemy attempted to stand the leaden hail; but then Col Elzey gave the order to charge, and, with another yell, over the fence we went and up the hill – gallant Tennessee stretching out like a line of light on our right, old Virginia gathering in on our left, while Beckham’s battery fired one, two, three, four, as regularly, as coolly as if firing a salute – one, two, three, four. But we beat them all in the race. Up the hill – no enemy there. Dead, dying and wounded and panic-stricken were lying in heaps. Their fine horses, together with swords and sashes, splendid saddles, all were there. But Captain Edelin, of company B, watching the flag head, had followed it during the charge and took it from the colour-bearer. All his guard shot down or fled, the gallant fellow had taken it from his lance and wrapped it around his left arm, where he was badly shot. It was the flag of the First Michigan Regiment – a crack corps. But just in front was a thick pine wood. In it the man dashed, and the last stand of Yankeedom at the battle of Manassas was taken. They fled like sheep. The Regiments in front of us were First Michigan, Second Vermont, Fourth Maine, New York Fire Zouaves, New York Sixty-ninth. We charged them and ran them with rifles without bayonets, only two companies of the Regiment having muskets. We then went forward, taking prisoners; but the battle was over. Beauregard inquired for us, and told Col. Elzey he was the Blucher of the day. President Davis came along, and the men cheered heartily.

The hard fighting done by other regiments was wonderful. We were particularly blessed, for though under a terrific fire for three hours, we lost one killed – a clever young fellow from Washington county – who joined me on the Maryland Heights. Lieut. Mernot and four wounded. But other regiments were terribly cut up. I saw men lying in ranks as they stood in line around a battery – the Rhode Island one, Burnside’s, I believe – friend and foe were lying so thick it required careful riding to avoid treading on them. Such was what I saw – necessarily a small part. The next day, Monday, we lay out in the rain without shelter, and at midnight started for Fairfax Court-House. A brigade under Col. J. E. B. Stewart leading. The infantry under Col. Stewart leaving the regiment to me. As we got up the road the marks of the rout thickened. Wagons, provisions, guns, pistols, clothes, everything to supply an army completely were there. Patent frying pans, which folded up, patent cartridges, patent tents, patent coats, bedsteads, everything. We came carefully along leaving all behind, and reached our camp, Fairfax Court-House, where we now are. We have the tents of the Maine and Vermont volunteers, conical and every shape, but miserably constructed. The funniest capture was our Chaplain’s – he is always prowling about, and at last got the baggage of the Maine Chaplain, which he seized and brought into camp. He has gowns, surplice bands, cravats, and all other adornments of a High Church clergyman. He saw the Maine parson, who is very saucy and full of fight; but Cameron, got his clothes nevertheless.

August 8th.


Richmond Examiner, 8/17/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy