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

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

6 04 2022
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Georgia Sharpshooter : The Civil War Diary and Letters of William Rhadamanthus Montgomery 1839-1906

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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

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

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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

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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

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

26 03 2022
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Sgt. William Alexander McQueen, Co. D, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

26 03 2022

[From the Sumter Watchman.]

August 19, 1861

Dear Watchman: You have doubtless, by this time, heard from various sources a detailed account of the great battle of Manassas Plains. But there are some little incidents more immediately connected with our part in that glorious affair, which might not be uninteresting to your readers. The Colonel’s official report of the battle is very lucid and correct, the best thing of the kind that has yet been published. – There is one oversight, however, which cannot fail to be noticed by those who were engaged in the action. Every Captain in the Regiment is mentioned with honor, except that old Mexican hero, Capt. McManus; he is passed over in silence, only mentioned among the wounded. Now those who were near can testify that there was no one in that glorious battle who acted with mor calmness and self posession, and, withal, more gallantry, than did Capt. McManus. When struck by the fragment of a shell in the arm, he quietly turned to one of his men and said, “Hand me that shell,” and though the wound was painful, he refused to leave the field until the battle had ceased. I mention this as a simple act of justice to the Captain, and feel assured that the attention of our gallant and impartial Colonel has only to be called to the facts of the case, and it will be all right.

To give some idea of the coolness and sang froid with which our boys engaged the enemy, I have only to mention a few little anecdotes:

During the battle, a poor little rabbit, frightened by the roar of musketry, and the whistling of bullets, timidly approached our ranks; after giving chase for a few moments, a private in Capt. Haile’s Company succeeded in taking him prisoner, and very probably made a soup out of him for dinner.

My attention, during the battle, was attracted by a negro who fought with great coolness and bravery. He had obtained a fine Yankee gun on the field, and as he fired, would exclaim: “My golly! How de bucra* fall!”

As some poor soldier lay upon the field, groaning with pain, caused by a mortal wound, his comrade stepped up to him and whispered: “Oh, die game! die game!”

The following anecdote is related of Co. Kershaw: The Colonel had been suffering for several days previous to the battle from a sore leg, caused by the kick of a horse. – When he had reached the field, some one asked him how his leg was, “Sir,” said he, “I did not know that I had a leg.”

W. A. McQ. **

The Lancaster (SC) News, 9/4/1861

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* “Buckra” is Gullah slang for “white man.” – ed.

** Per below records, likely William Alexander McQueen. Hat tip to reader Michael Pellegrini.

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Pvt. John A. Jennings, Co. B, 2nd South Carolina Infantry, Incidents of the Pursuit

13 09 2020


Mr. Jennings, a member of the Butler Guards, arrived here yesterday on his way home for a brief visit. Being an eye-witness and an active participator in the battle of Stone Bridge, he relates some interesting incidents, one or two of which we note.

When Kershaw’s regiment was advancing on the retreat of the federals, and officer, mistaking them for a federal regiment in retreat, asked them not very politely what they were retreating for, and told them to go back to their guns. Col. Kershaw, who was at the head of the column, said:

“Who are you, sir?”

“I am Surgeon General Wyndham*, of the United States army.”

And I, sir, have to honor to be the Colonel of the second Palmetto regiment; dismount and deliver up your arms.”

Not obeying very promptly, Major Artemus D. Goodwyn drew his sword, and ordered him to dismount; which he promptly did.

After surrendering, he asked the Colonel if he would permit him to go on his parole of honor.

“Yes,” said Col. Kershaw, “to General Beauregard’s headquarters;” and he went. Col. K. then mounted his horse, which is said to be a magnificent animal.

Col. Kemper, who, with his command, was with the Carolina regiment, was, at one time, surrounded by some dozen of the enemy, who demanded his sword and surrender. Col. K. said he would deliver his sword to a proper officer. Seeing one of the North Carolina regiments on the left he said to the Lincoln men, yonder is one of your regiments, take me there and I will deliver my sword to the Colonel. They did take him, and found themselves all prisoners. – Southern Guardian.

The (Charlotte, NC) Evening Bulletin, 8/1/1861

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* Identity not determined. The Surgeon General of the U. S. Army in 1861 was Brig. Gen. Clement Finley.

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W. P. P., 2nd South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

11 09 2020

From Camp Gregg.
[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]

Advance Forces, Army of the Potomac,
Camp Gregg, July 31, 1861

Perhaps a letter from this quarter would not be altogether uninteresting to your readers. The Brigade of Gen. Bonham, including Capt. Kemper’s battery, are stationed at this point. We arrived here on Wednesday morning after the engagement of the 21st at Stone Bridge. The health of the troops generally is good. We have fine water, plenty of healthful food, (much of which at one time belonged to the enemy,) a large quantity of wood for cooking, and last, though by no means the least of our comforts, we are once more in possession of our tents. This important article had been dispensed from the time we left Fairfax until our arrival at this place, with the exception of one night.

The Yankee settlers in this neighborhood cut stick as soon as they found that their friends were whipped, and that the South Carolinians were coming. Many of them had raised the Union flag when the Yankees marched through here to Fairfax C. H. – Now their houses are deserted, and their possessors are perhaps safely on the other side of the Potomac.

I presume the details of the battle of Stone Bridge have reached you; but there are thousands of interesting incidents, perhaps insignificant in themselves, but which, collectively, went far towards turning the tide of battle. All the troops engaged, so far as my observations extended – and I was an eye-witness to much that occurred on that day – acted nobly. But as some newspaper correspondents have failed to do proper justice to the Second Palmetto Regiment, under Col. Kershaw, I trust you will permit me to say a few words in reference to the part it performed in that action.

During the first part of the engagement, the Second Regiment was stationed to the left of Gen. Bonham’s Brigade, about three miles below the Stone Bridge. About 12 o’clock Col. Kershaw, with Col. Cash (8th S. C. Regiment,) were ordered to repair to the battle-ground and take position on the left. – When we arrived in the neighborhood of the battle-ground, we met detached portions of Sloan’s S. C. Regiment, Hampton’s Legion, and a North Carolina Regiment, whose Colonel had been killed, leaving the field before superior numbers. So thickly flew the canister, grape, and Monnie balls of the enemy, that we were compelled to be flat upon the ground while the line of battle was being formed. It was whilst in this position we sustained a galling fire from the Fire Zouave Regiment, stationed behind a fence in our front. We also discovered at this time that there was a park of rifle cannon playing upon us from the right. At length the line of battle was formed, consisting of the 2d and 8th South Carolina Regiments and Preston’s Virginia Regiment, all under command of Col. Kershaw. Riding to the front and right of his own regiment, Col. Kershaw inquired of his men if they would follow him. Replying in the affirmative, he gave the order to charge, and with a shout they arose and broke the enemy’s line. So sudden did we spring on them and pass them, that more than a hundred Zouaves were left in our rear, and were made prisoners of by our straggling soldiers. The right wing of the Second Regiment came square upon the rifle cannon, which were in a short time turned upon the enemy. I have never ascertained the name of the battery; but a wounded enemy under one of the pieces informed us that it had once been commanded by Colonel Magruder, now of the Confederate army. It was in advancing upon this battery that the Zouaves displayed the Confederate flag, which caused us to reserve our fire for several minutes. Finally, they emerged from the woods with the Stars and Stripes, when they were fired into by the Butler Guards, the right flaking company of Kershaw’s Regiment, whose trusty Enfield rifles made many of them bite the dust. The rifle cannon were removed from the field, by order of General Beauregard, by men from the Second Regiment.

The enemy were pursued by the brigade under Col. Kershaw to within a short distance of Centreville, capturing a great number of pieces of artillery. Captain Kemper’s battery also performed a conspicuous part in the pursuit. The enemy was frequently in sight, large bodies of them flying in almost every direction. It was in the pursuit that the celebrated Rhode Island battery was captured. The small loss sustained by the Second Regiment, in killed and wounded, must not be taken as an indication that they were not in the hottest of the fight. When it is remembered that much of their fighting was accomplished whilst lying on the ground, and the enemy’s balls going over their heads, the reason why co few were killed is rapidly understood.

W. W. P.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/5/1861

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