Flag of the 2nd Maine Infantry

1 03 2023

The Flag of the Second Maine Regiment*, captured on the Plains of Manassas at the great battle by the Palmetto Guard*, which was exhibited for some days at the Mercury office, and which has been in the possession of Capt. P. B. Lalane for some weeks past, has been demanded from Col. Kershaw by Gen. Beauregard. A formal requisition for the flag was, in consequence, made to Capt. Lalane, who complied by sending it to Virginia on Thursday, by the Southern Express.

Charleston (SC) Mercury, 9/20/1861

Clipping image

*The Palmetto Guards were Co. I, 2nd SC Infantry (Col. Kershaw). The 2nd SC engaged O. O. Howard’s brigade on Chinn Ridge. The 2nd ME was part of Keyes’s brigade, which did not engage the 2nd SC. If a Maine flag was captured by the 2nd SC during the fighting, it was likely one of either the 3rd, 4th or 5th ME of Howard’s Brigade.

Edmund Ruffin, On the Battle and Aftermath

22 12 2022



Our Richmond Correspondence.


Richmond, July 61.

Edmund Ruffin – What he says of the Great Battle – His Part in the Fight – An Exciting Scene – The Field after the Fight, etc., etc.

I have, from an eyewitness of, and participator in, the closing scenes of the battle of Manassas, some details of an interesting character; especially so to South Carolinians, because they relate, in part, to the brave men of their State. My informant is well known to the people of Charleston, and to the people of South Carolina, and the whole South, by fame. He is the noble old Virginian who fired the first gun at Sumter, and the last gun at Manassas; he who had sworn he would never live under the Lincoln Government, and left his home in Virginia, before the inauguration of the Black Republican dynasty, and did not return till his State seceded. Edmund Ruffin, the venerable hero, truthful as he is brave, who saw, and participated in the glorious battle, gives me the subjoined facts, in part from memory, and in part from the notes in his private journal.

Mr. Ruffin does not presume to say what impression had been made, or was being made, when he entered the field where the action was going on, by other troops along the line, upon the enemy; he only mentions Kershaw’s command, to which he attached himself. He could not tell the precise time when he saw Kershaw’s brigade and reinforcements march by him to where the battle appeared to be the hottest, but he saw and recognised them, an suppose it was about three o’clock in the afternoon. There were at that time under Kershaw’s command, his own and Cash’s regiments, from South Carolina; Preston’s regiment, or part of a regiment, of Virginia; Kemper’s artillery, the Powhatan, the Hanover, and some of the Albermarle cavalry. – Having witnessed for some time the movements of the different bodies of men, of each side, surging to and fro; now in sight of the crest of a hill, and then hid from view in a valley; all amidst the thunder, and smoke, and dust of battle, he saw the enemy give way where Kershaw’s command was engaged. He could not say what other command, or what other troops than his, aided in breaking the enemy’s line, and turning the tide of battle; but he gives to Kershaw and his brave command the honor due to them.

I quote Mr. Ruffin’s own graphic language, describing scenes of the battle field: “I was told by many of these (troops that had fallen back) that our army had been driven by the enemy for miles (which was true, though falling back gradually, and in good order, and without ceasing fire), that the day was going against us, and that several companies and regiments had been nearly cut to pieces. In the few minutes consumed by these enquiries and answers, I perceived that reinforcements of infantry were passing on by us. (These were Kershaw’s and Col. Cash’s troops.) Stunned as I was by the unexpected and gloomy reports, I thought that these reinforcements might yet save the almost lost day; and that it was the duty of every man who could pull a trigger to lend his aid to their action. I hastily determined, feeble, and then fatigued as I was, that I would go, and try also to induce others who had before retired, to go. Therefore I called out to those around me, and asked those who would join me to go with the reinforcements. Not one replied, or made any indications of leaving, staring at me in silence. I said no more, but turned off and proceeded towards the battle.”

Here Mr. Ruffin describes the movements of troops in the fields and woods, falling back at one time, and advancing another, without naming them, and which would require a diagram to understand it.

He goes on to say: “All the engaged forces had passed out of my view before I had walked to the corn field. The reinforcing regiments of infantry (Col. Kershaw’s, of South Carolina, and some others, he in command of the brigade) marched along the path through the corn field to the position marked.”

“I had not gone one hundred yards from where I set out for the field, before meeting other skulkers who had withdrawn later from the battle. I heard from them repetitions of our disasters. I thought my advancing further to be useless and foolish, and that, in the inevitable speedy rout – for even in an orderly, though rapid retreat, I would not fail to be left behind – I would have turned back, but for sham. I still walked onward, until overtaken by one of Kemper’s field pieces, going the same way, and, as I did not doubt, it was going where it could do most service. The officers in command who knew me before, invited me to take a seat on the gun carriage, which I accepted most gladly. The carriage had proceeded but a short distance, when it was stopped, and, as if by new orders, turned round by the team, and trotted fast backward along the path, and then up the public road, on the left, where it was again stopped. I was entirely at a loss to guess what this movement meant. But I had full confidence in Capt. Kemper, and that he was doing whatever courage and good conduct directed. He was present; and he had his other three pieces close by. They remained still for a short time, during which and before we got there the firing of musketry was rapidly kept up in the direction of the wood alongside of us. Of course the nearest must have been the firing of the enemy, which seemed to me not more than 150 or 200 yards distant. I did not deem it proper at such a time to occupy the attention of Capt. Kemper, or any other officer to answer questions. So I remained under my late impressions, that defeat was inevitable, and that a retreat had already begun; until hearing that it was the enemy that was retreating, and that our army had, at last, by aid mainly of the reinforcements, turned the tide of battle, and gained a glorious victory.”

“We were soon joined by other troops, mostly from South Carolina, and began to march; where I did not know then; but, as it appeared afterwards, in pursuit of the enemy for a few miles only. The movement was by Col. Kershaw’s Brigade only, with Kemper’s Artillery, and some troops of cavalry. Our way was along roads, passing first through the field of battle. We crossed “Stone Bridge” over Bull Run, along the route of the fleeing enemy. Our progress was slow, with several stoppages, the reason of which I did not know, but suppose it was on account of the weariness of our men. We saw many of the killed, though our route was at first only on the outskirts of the hardest contested ground. Muskets and other arms were scattered along the road. Where we first stopped on the top of a hill, I saw our cavalry pursuing the enemy in different directions. While here some acquaintances of Col. Hampton’s Legion approached me. They had suffered severely. As we marched along and passed his corps, they gave three cheers in honor of me. The same was done by the Palmetto Guard, to which I belonged, as we passed them. No one of this company were killed, and only twelve wounded. As we proceeded farther, the indications of the haste and dispersion of the fleeing Yankees became more numerous. The road was strewn with articles thrown away by the fugitives. The haversacks were all filled with crackers or hard biscuit. The road was straight, and of great advantage for our artillery to fire upon the enemy. Several rounds of shot and shell were fired, but we could not tell the effect produced, except that the enemy, who appeared before to show a disposition to stand, made their escape by a lateral road to our left. The Palmetto Guard were sent out skirmishing, and fired two rounds upon the fugitives. They received some few shots in return. A company of the Albemarle cavalry was sent also in pursuit. Col. Kershaw received information that the Yankees had all fled. He then ordered the artillery, wagons, &c., the enemy had left behind, should be brought in. We then marched back.

“The following day, I borrowed a horse of Col. Kershaw, and rode over one portion of the battle field. The sight was horrible. The great number of dead were nearly all of the Yankee army, and were scattered over a field of some thirty acres, and probably extended in like manner for some three miles, over which the conflict had passed. Many were of the Zouave regiment. I saw some five or six of the wounded still alive. All of them lay quiet and motionless, until looking up as I approached near. The first I came near had a tin cup of water, but, as I thought, not within his reach. I alighted from my horse, and asked if he wished to drink, offering the cup to his lips. I was glad to see that all, or nearly all, that I afterwards visited, had been provided in like manner, by the kindness of our men. To one I said, that when placed in the hospital, he would be cared for as well as our own wounded men. To this he replied, he believed it, for he had been kindly treated since lying there.”

Mr. Ruffin, in making his statements, is very careful not to say more than he knows, and therefore, his testimony as to the part which Col. Kershaw and his South Carolina brigade took in the battle of Manassas, is perfectly reliable.

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/5/1861

Clipping Image

Edmund Ruffin at Ancestry.com

Edmund Ruffin at Fold3

Edmund Ruffin at FindAGrave

Edmund Ruffin at Wikipedia

Ensign, Co. I, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle, Pursuit, and Spoils

15 11 2022


Manassas Battle Ground, July 23.

Dear Editor: We have fought the great fight and the day is ours. One of the fiercest battles in the annals of American History has been fought and a signal victory gained; and now while I write, the dead and sounded and dying are being borne from the field – taken up from among the bushes, from the open field, and from among the corners of the fence, where the poor fellows have crawled to avoid being overridden by the cavalry and artillery. – What a terrible illustration of the horrors of war! what heart sickening evidence of the folly and wickedness of the enemy who seek our subjugation!

I will not attempt to give you all the details of the battle, for after dividing and sub dividing for exageration and misrepresentation, it would be hard to elicit from the net-work of rumors such a fabric of truth as would be proper and reasonable.

Bull Run is North of Manassas Junction. The nearest point is Mitchell’s Ford – distance about three miles, the place where, if you remember, we built breastworks in June. The creek runs due east. Some five or six miles in a North-westerly direction from the Ford and along it is the battle ground of the 21st.

The battle of Sunday commenced at the ford by a heavy cannonade from a battery of rifled cannon 6 pounders and a one 32 pounder. These opened at 8 o’clock in the morning and played incessantly on for three hours, the object being, if possible, to draw us from our position and show our force, and to divert our attention from the left wing of our army that Scott might be the better able to execute his well concocted plan. The enemy were in line of battle along the Run from Stone Bridge to Union Mills – a distance of eight or ten miles. Their army was supported by heavy artillery. Our forces were stationed in the same manner along the creek, supported by artillery. The main attack commenced on the left about 10 o’clock a.m., by an advance of Gen. Jackson. Our brave fellows fought gallantly. They maintained their ground for hours against a force of five to one; but at last being overpowered and worn out with fatigue, they were compelled to fall back on our own side of the creek, where they again made a bold stand, but were compelled to retreat again and this time left the field entirely, until Cols. Kershaw and Cash, Kemper’s Battery and Preston’s Virginia Battery came to their relief. Without doubt, when we arrived on the field the day was lost. Three regiments we met retreating in confusion.

These facts, together with having to march five miles and a great part of it double-quick, to get to the battle ground, are the discouragements under which we went into battle. I do not know as I can describe our fight exactly, as it was not a very seasonable time to make observations. We were first drawn up in line of battle along the brow of a hill, where we stood a galling fire from the enemy. At last we received the orders to advance and with a stern resolve to do or die, every man marched promptly forward. We met the foe in a narrow strip of woods; they were concealed behind the trees, brush and fence. We charged them from the woods, but some of the villains fooled us in one particular, by falling down upon their backs, beg us for a drink of water as we passed (which we gave them) and after we had passed, they would rise up and shoot us and run. We were engaged about 30 minutes in a sort of hand to hand fight. I had almost forgotten to tell you that those fellows we caught in the woods were old Abe’s “Pet Lambs.” But I have not forgotten that according to their own statement, only 200 out of 1200 are left to clothe his Majesty next winder. When those cut-throats were stationed at Falls Church, they would send word to the 2d (Kershaw’s) Regiment, particularly the Palmetto Guards, that we were the boys they wished to get hold of. Now, they have met us, and we are waiting patiently to hear their report.

We next met the Regulars at a distance of five or six hundred yards further on. – Our Col. formed his regiment in an old road which proved to be the very place for us, as we could lie down and load, rise and fire, – only being exposed long enough to get a good shot. Things went on in this manner for about an hour and a half, when we were ordered to cease firing and remain lying, so that the Artillery could play on them from our rear. A few rounds of grape and canister from Capt. Kemper’s well directed guns completely routed them. Then we pursued, playing on them with cannon at every opportunity. Such human destruction I never before witnessed; at every discharge of the cannon whole ranks would tumble to the ground. The pursuit lasted for three miles when we were drawn back to rest of the night, and that was my last sight of the enemy. I heard they went to Alexandria in the greatest confusion, their officers could not command them. – When they were ordered to go into the trenches and fight, they refused, saying, “It is no used to fight the rebels, they never can nor never will be conquered.

Between Stone Bridge and Centreville, a distance of three miles, the scene presented was indescribable. Your correspondent saw scattered every article that could enter into the composition of a well equipped army. Cannon, baggage wagons, ammunition wagons, ambulances, blankets, shoes, haversacks, knapsacks, muskets, cartridge boxes, medicine chests, and several thousand hand-cuffs, intended to be used upon their prisoners. One of the valuable articles captured was a batch of paper, evidently the property of a General officer. It contained […] campaign – stated that the attacking force should consist of fifty three thousand men, enumerating the regiments. We found at Centreville two boxes, one directed to Gen. Winfield Scott, Richmond, Va., the other to the Junction. He did not contemplate a defeat. He expected to march on our left wing, break it with ease, come up in our rear, cut us to pieces, have a pic nic same day at the Junction, and the following Wednesday night a big ball in the Capitol at Richmond. Another indication of his contemplated success was, that he had along a great many of ladies and gentlemen. Perhaps the former to welcome the “heroes” on their return and the latter to witness the fight. Many of them were members of Congress.

Our loss in Sunday’s fight is between 1500 and 2000 in killed and wounded, The enemy between 10 and 12,000 killed, wounded and prisoners. Kershaw’s Regiment lost about fifty killed and wounded – five killed and the rest wounded. Our company had four wounded – none killed. Capt. McManus, shot in the arm; D. A. Williams, color-bearer, shot in the leg; T. J. Welsh, shot in the arm, and Richard Kennington, shot in the groin – none are dangerous.

Everything is going right again. The health of the regiment is not so good, but I think it is caused by fatigue and exposure and will soon disappear.

Our men have not yet completed the burial of the enemy’s dead. They remain in scores on the field, where they fell, black, mangled and putrifying masses of what was once humanity, filling the atmosphere with stench. It is worthy of notice, that many of the enemy’s wounded had near them a pile of crackers and a cup of water given to them by our volunteers as sustenance until they could be removed from the field and better cared for. Wounds could be seen of every variety. The Surgeons say that our wounded are much worse than the enemy’s. Ours being shot with the oblong ball and theirs with the common long ball. The conical ball makes horrible ghastly openings, especially, if they hit anything hard they cause them to zigzag through the body. When this is the case mortification is also certain.

Your humble servant,

Lancasterville (SC) Ledger, 8/14/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Unknown (5), Co. I, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Campaign

7 04 2022



Extracts from Private Letters.


[From a Member of the Palmetto Guards.]

Fairfax C. H., July 26.

Dear Sister: As you perceive, I am again at Fairfax, by not stationed there. Our force is posted at Vienna, where all the South Carolina Regiments are stationed. I saw L. L. C., of Boykin’s [?], after the engagement; his company came up too late to get into the fight. You have no doubt, ere this, seen by the official statement our gallant Second Regiment were in both engagements. Our company, the P. G.’s, were the first to face the music on the 18th, were the nearest to the Hessians on the 21st on the retreat, and the very last to fire on their retreating forces, to which was mainly attributable the capture of so large a number of the splendid artillery. We took fifty-five pieces rifle Dahlgrens, and the most improved kind, wagons, horses, &c. I equipped myself from head to foot in the Yankee clothing of a Maine Major.

We claim a very conspicuous part in the picture. Our Second Regiment, Cash’s Regiment, with Kemper’s Battery, all under the command of the gallant Kershaw, turned the fate of the day. Our loss on the 21st was 6 killed and 24 wounded. We have enjoyed the reading of a good many love-letters, which were both interesting and amusing. A more complete stampede was never heard of. It will take, in my opinion, more than two months for them to organize their army. Had Beauregard’s orders been carried out, I think all fighting would now be at an end; but as it is we will have to give them one more good flogging before they are satisfied. Their loss is very heavy in killed and wounded. I will not pretend to estimate it. We lost some good men, but our loss is comparatively light to theirs. I am writing in a book that a very pretty lady in Fairfax, for want of better paper, has given me; and a soldier, for the want of better, takes things as he finds them.

On the morning of the 21st, our Chaplain, Mr. Manardy, of the Second Regiment, gave us a very affecting prayer. Every man came down on his knees, and supplicated the Almighty to be on our side; and our prayers were heard, and we were all saved pretty nearly.

I have a splendid rifle which I took from a Yankee, and then made him my prisoner. He begged so hard for his life I could not kill him.

The day after the battle, it rained very hard, and the wounded of the enemy must have suffered tremendously.

Whilst we were pursuing the enemy, an officer came riding up to us and inquired why we were retreating that way? We soon discovered that he was our enemy, and make him out prisoner. The Colonel asking who he was, when he answered he was a Surgeon of the U. S. Army. We told him he could consider himself our prisoner; that we were not retreating, but advancing.

As you must already have heard, Jeff. Davis was on the field; but our Beauregard was commanding.

Write soon and send the papers regularly.

Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/1/1861

Clipping Image

Image: Pvt. William Rhadamanthus Montgomery, Co. I, 2nd South Carolina Infantry

6 04 2022
William R. Montgomery (FindAGrave)

Georgia Sharpshooter : The Civil War Diary and Letters of William Rhadamanthus Montgomery 1839-1906

William R. Montgomery biography

William R. Montgomery at Ancestry

William R. Montgomery at Fold3

William R. Montgomery at FindAGrave

Pvt. William Rhadamanthus Montgomery, Co. I, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Campaign

6 04 2022

Waifs from the War.

We have before us a most interesting letter from Wm. R. Montgomery Esq., a member of the Palmetto Guards, Capt. Cuthbert’s company, Kershaw’s South Carolina regiment, written from Vienna, Loudoun county Virginia on the 31st July, (from which it appears that our army is advancing). Mr. Montgomery though in a South Carolina regiment is a citizen of Marietta and is extensively known in this city also.

The letter is lengthy and gives a great many interesting details of the battles of Bull’s Run and Manassas Plains. We would like to publish it all, but out space will not permit, as most of the facts mentioned by him have been anticipated. We make the following extracts:

“On Wednesday morning of the 17th instant, Lincoln’s army advanced on us, numbering, in all, about 55,000 (as was stated by an officer, taken prisoner) and afterwards received reinforcements. We all struck tents and retreated to Bull’s Run immediately, as we had orders from Gen. Beauregard, several days previous. It seems we were placed at Fairfax only as a bait to the Yankees, and they bit well at it. The Palmetto Guards had the honor of being the rear guard of 6000 men on the retreat, which was at one point a somewhat dangerous position. As we passed Germantown the enemy were in sight, and lacked only a few moments in cutting us off. Being rear guard, we had to go through woods and fields most of the way.

We arrived at Centreville at 12 o’clock in the night and rested, and kept the enemy in check till 1 o’clock. While at Centreville one of our company – Mr. Brown, died from being overheated. We left Centreville, and arrived at Bull’s Run about day light, and took our position in the old trenches. About 12 o’clock we received intelligence that the enemy were advancing on us. Out company and two pieces of Artillery were ordered to take position just beyond the River on the first hill. We had not been there long till the Yankees sent at us shot and shell in abundance. They fell all among us but no one was hurt. Our two pieces then opened on them, and soon succeeded in silencing them in that quarter.

Soon after 2 o’clock a cannonading commenced below us on the Run followed by musketry which lasted four long hours. Our side repulsed them three times and took two large cannon. The Louisiana Artillery played fearfully upon them, and did much towards winning the day.

About dark the Yankees sent in a flag of truce for leave to bury their dead, which was granted. I do not know what their loss was. Their papers acknowledge a loss of 1500. – We found 72 bodies on the field next morning, which they had left.”

[Next follows a description of the battle of Manassas Plains, and many incidents connected therewith. He states that he was within a few feet of Bartow when he fell; he then says:]

“We have had no tents since the 17th, but have been exposed to all the weather. Sunday night we slept on the field of battle. – Monday was spent in burying our dead. It rained very hard Monday night. I spent Monday night with the Georgia boys at Manassas on the open field in the rain. We had noting to eat from Saturday evening until late Monday evening, except a few crakers taken from the Yankees’ haversacks which we were obliged to eat or starve.”

This letter of Mr. Montgomery’s is written on Yankee paper taken from the enemy. One sheet has a fine engraving of the U. S. Capital in it. Another has a grand triumphal arch with the words “Constitution and Laws” sacrilegiously inscribed thereon, surmounted by the temple of liberty and crowned with a constellation of twenty four stars, while the Yankees are represented below in great numbers waving the stars and stripes and saluting the stars and stripes and saluting the emblems with shouts of enthusiasm.

The letter also had inclosed a Yankee envelope. It has a representation of the camp of a Yankee army with the stars and stripes waving high, and these words for a motto. – “Traitorous breath shall not taint American Air.” The envelope had the address of a dead Yankee on it as follow: “Lieut. Jas. N. Fowler, 4th Maine Regiment company I. care Col. H. G. Berry, Washington D. C.,” and was mailed at Searsport, Maine.

(Atlanta, GA) Southern Confederacy, 8/16/1861

Clipping Image

Georgia Sharpshooter : The Civil War Diary and Letters of William Rhadamanthus Montgomery 1839-1906

William R. Montgomery biography

William R. Montgomery at Ancestry

William R. Montgomery at Fold3

William R. Montgomery at FindAGrave

Unit History – 2nd South Carolina Infantry

5 04 2022

[Also called 2nd Palmetto Regiment] completed its organization near Richmond, Virginia, in May, 1861. The men were from Columbia, Camden, and Charleston, and the counties of Sumter, Richland, Greenville, Kershaw, and Lancaster. After fighting in Bonham’s Brigade at First Manassas, the unit served under Generals Toombs, Kershaw, Kennedy, and Conner. It participated in many conflicts of the army from the Seven Days’ Battles to Cold Harbor except when it was detached with Longstreet at Chickamauga and Knoxville. The 2nd was active in Early’s Shenandoah Valley operations and ended the war in North Carolina. It reported 5 killed and 43 wounded at First Manassas, and lost eighteen percent of the 338 at Savage’s Station, twenty percent of the 203 at Malvern Hill, thirty-seven percent of the 253 at Sharpsburg, and forty-one percent of the 412 at Gettysburg. The regiment sustained 10 casualties at Bentonville and totalled 184 men on March 23, 1865. It surrendered with the Army of Tennessee. The field officers were Colonels Ervine P. Jones, John D. Kennedy, and Joseph B. Kershaw; Lieutenant Colonels Franklin Gaillard, A. D. Goodwyn, and William Wallace; and Major Benjamin Clyburn.

From Joseph H. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army, pp. 249-250

Unknown (4), Co. I, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Campaign

5 04 2022

Extracts of a Private Letter
[From a Member of the Palmetto Guard, Kershaw’s Regiment.]

Advance Army of the Potomac, Vienna,
Fairfax Co., Va., July 28th, 1861.

My Dear Brother: This is the third letter I have written since the great battle, but from one cause or another was prevented from sending you either of the other two. Before entering into any details of the fight, I would remark that I escaped unhurt, and have continued well ever since. On the 17th inst., while we were at Fairfax Court House, the enemy advanced upon us in great strength; the least estimate of their force having been set down at 45,000, while our own being but 5000, we retreated in good order to our old batteries at Bull Run. Our retreat was performed with great reluctance, but in the face of such overwhelming odds it became a matter of absolute necessity.

We have since learned that Gen. Beauregard never intended giving them battle at Fairfax, and that our advance was a bait thrown out to decoy the enemy. His standing order was to retire. The enemy pursued us very closely from Fairfax, and came very near cutting off our retreat at Germantown; had we arrived fifteen minutes later they certainly would have done so. Col. Kershaw has since been very highly complimented for the masterly manner in which he conducted our retreat. Although our Company occupied the right of the Regiment, we were selected from the whole Brigade to march o the left and cover the retreat. On the morning of the 18th we reached Bull Run, about daylight, and before noon the enemy attacked our right flank, but were repulsed with fearful loss.

That evening (Thursday) our Regiment was ordered to the left, and they were industriously employed in throwing up breastworks. Here we remained until 12 o’clock on Sunday, when we were ordered to take up the line of march, and join the fight now raging about one mile or more to the left. Just before the order reached us, our Chaplain came over to our company and requested us to join him in prayer. To this we readily assented, and never have I witnessed a more solemn or imposing sight. Every man seemed impressed with a sense of the awful solemnity of the occasion, and nerved by a consciousness that our cause was just, we bent to reverent knee before the majesty of Him in whose keeping is the fate of men and empires.

The services concluded, the order reached us to march, and every man was in his place almost before the order had been extended. The enthusiasm of the men was glorious. Off we went at the double quick, when just before reaching the battle field we met hundreds of our men retreating, who, as we came up to them, with uplifted arms, besought us for “God’s sake not to go on, that we were marching to an inevitable doom, and that the day was lost.” These supplications seemed to have but little effect upon our men, who had but so recently been nerved to the conflict in their solemn appeal to heaven. For myself I only felt that if the day had indeed been lost, we, at least, would make on stout effort to redeem it.

Our regiment formed the line of battle under a tremendous fire, and were forced for a while to lay down for protection. I the meanwhile Col. Cash’s and the Maryland regiments joined us on the left. At this stage we found the enemy advancing upon us, and the bulk of our own force retreating. Col. Kershaw immediately asked Col Cash and the Colonel of the Maryland regiment to select their positions, which they declined to do, whereupon the gallant Kershaw replied, “I’m going into the fight anyhow.” Immediately after came the order “fix bayonets – forward, march.” We did so with one loud yell, which Gen. Johnson says he heard on the other side of the field. After giving the enemy one volley we rushed forward, and at the point of the bayonet recaptured the famous “Rickett Battery,” which, though taken early in the morning, had been recaptured by the enemy. After retreating, the enemy formed a line of battle on a high hill, about five hundred yards from us. It was not until then that we discovered that we had flanked the famous (or infamous) New York Zouaves, who as they passed, were sot down by our men like fleeing deer. The rascals found out that we were killing so many of their number, that many of the betook themselves, like Falstaff, “to counterfeiting,” and stretched upon the ground in our rear, they mercilessly fired upon our wounded who were being carried from the field. Samuel Calder, a member of our company, who had been wounded, and while going to the rear, was sprung upon by one of these miscreants, who happened this time to have missed his man. Calder had strength enough left to impale the villain upon the blade of his sabre bayonet.

After having taken the artillery, which consisted of six rifle cannon, we advanced about two hundred yards, and took up our position in ta deep gulley. The Colonel, finding our position well protected, kept us there until Capt. Kemper brought up his battery, when we advanced, and about an hour afterwards the enemy gave way, and retreated generally in great confusion.

Our own, followed by Cash’s Regiment, pursued the enemy for several miles, when night set in and we thought it advisable to discontinue the pursuit. Before doing so, however, we treated the rascals to a parting volley. This produced such a panic among them that we captured twenty-seven pieces of artillery and quite a number of baggage wagons. You can form no idea of the quantity of military stores that have come into our possession. Military men say they have never known an army so splendidly equipped.

A great many citizens of Washington and representatives from Northern cities came out in carriages to witness and take part in the triumphal entry into Richmond. Senator Foster came out in a carriage and four as far as Cantreville, but returned on foot at the “treble quick” as far as Fairfax, and there succeeded in getting into a baggage wagon, whose driver, I suppose, will receive a foreign appointment as a reward for this happy deliverance.

The officers of the army and the civilian spectators brought with them every conceivable comfort and delicacy, and confidently expected to pass Manassas without even a fight. Their viands fell into the possession of those who, to say the least, were in a condition to do them more than justice. The day after the fight (which was a very rainy one) I visited the battle field, and there beheld a scene which beggars all description. Hundreds of the dead and dying lay promiscuously around me, while the moans of the dying and the piteous supplications of the wounded, might have softened the most relentless heart. I spent the whole morning in giving the wounded water, and doing what I could for the alleviation of those who had but a short time to live. From nearly all whom I questioned touching the motive which induced them to engage in this war of invasion, there came but the single response, that they had been promised large rewards, and been induced to believe that our men would quail before the “Grand Army of the Union.” But in this they had been wofully disappointed, as our men had evinced a courage and an obstinacy of determination that were not to be overcome.

On the field I met our old friend, J. P., of the Washington Light Infantry, with only about twenty men of his company. Young L., who is also a member, came up to me with tears in his eyes, and said, “My G-d, we have lost all of our men.” I am happy to say, however, that since the fight their men have collected, and their loss is not near as great as was apprehended.

I might go on giving you incidents of the fight, but I am admonished that this letter has already grown too long. What I might say, must therefore be reserved for my next. I will only remark, in closing, that the moral of this fight illustrates, as well as anything can, the characteristics of the people of the two sections of the country. The one, inflated with inordinate vanity, greedy of gain, and ready to sacrifice to material prosperity the better and more ennobling qualities of our nature. The other, in cultivating and developing the individual man, gives to each a self-sustaining sentiment which finds its highest expression in the self-sacrificing devotion to the great principles of liberty.

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/5/1861

Clipping Image

Unknown (3), Co. I, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

27 03 2022

Private Letter from a Member of the Palmetto Guard

Stone Bridge, Bull Run (No. 32) July 28, 1861

Since writing you we have had a terrible though glorious fight – this makes the second. The fight commenced on the left flank of our line, and we in the centre (Cash’s and Kershaw’s Regiments) received orders to march. When you were in church we were in the bloodiest fight that has ever transpired in North America. The day was lost when our two regiments came up. Our troops were falling back, and had retired some distance. Col. Kershaw gave the command forward, and after some ten or twelve rounds, away went the Yankees. I understand Beauregard said our regiments “saved the day” – a second battle of Waterloo. While the fight was going on on the left, the enemy’s right wing was routed, and the day was ours. South Carolina weeps. A ball struck my hat rim and dented it a few inches from the cockade. Five or six of our company are wounded, but none mortally. The fight continued from about 10 o’clock a. m. until night, when the whole Yankee line, 55 or 60,000, were driven back in the wildest confusion. The road by which they went is still filled with wagons, cannon, blankets, and anything in fact one could desire. Their army was splendidly equipped. A great number of wagons and prisoners were taken, and over thirty pieces of artillery, the greater part rifled cannon. Colonel Hampton’s command has suffered extremely. After the battle was over, our company (the Palmetto Guard) were sent out as skirmishers, a mile and a half, and came across a regiment in perfect order moving. We laid down and gave them five or six rounds, which were returned of course. Just then Kemper’s artillery came up and put it to them. They then went off, and are by the last accounts in Alexandria.

We expect another battle soon, but not from those troops – they were cut to pieces. Our company banner is thrice pierced by the enemy’s balls. The loss is not ascertained. It is very heavy on our side, but for or five times more on the other. This makes the second battle I have been in, but the first in which I ever fired. At the first battle of the 18th July we supported the artillery which tore open the ranks of the enemy. Shells exploded over our heads and rifled cannon balls whistled by us, still I am safe, thank God. I would have written yesterday, but it rained all day, and I could not, though I received and read yours. We are resting.

I have a Minnie rifle mounted, a Zouave blanket, and several other articles. No regiment ever entered a battle under more depressing circumstances than we did. All along our lines of march men were retreating and saying to us we are defeated. But we went forward and the day was won.

Charleston (SC) Mercury, 7/29/1861

Clipping Image

Image: Sgt. William Alexander McQueen, Co. D, 2nd South Carolina Infantry

26 03 2022
William Alexander McQueen (FindAGrave)

William Alexander McQueen at Ancestry

William Alexander McQueen at Fold3

William Alexander McQueen at FindAGrave